Sara gets budgety

It's that time again. It happens twice a month, almost without fail.

I've breathed an enormous sigh of relief because I just got paid, and have managed to skate away from the edge of overdraft.

I've been living paycheque to paycheque my entire life, and I'm sick of it. At 36, I feel like a savings account (with something in it) and at least something put away for retirement are hallmarks of being an adult--and since I don't have either of those, I feel...well, like a teenager with eye wrinkles.

I'm not exactly extravagant. I don't have a TV, I don't have an air conditioner, I don't belong to a gym, I don't own a car. I do enjoy a beer out with friends once or twice week, but I rarely eat an entire meal out. I carry my morning coffee in a travel mug. I brown bag my lunch, at least most of the time, and I tend to avoid processed food.

I'm carrying a fair amount of debt, true, both my own and what Paul and I managed to accumulate together. My cellphone is expensive, but it's my only phone, so it's not as bad as it could be. Commuting adds up, but it's still not as expensive as having a car full-time.

And yet I get to the days before each paycheque, if not in the hole, then at least staring into it. It's not a nice view--and the fact that it happens week after week means I'm obviously not backing away from the precipice any too quickly.

So I'm going to get budgety. There aren't a lot of expenses over which I have a lot of control--well, I suppose I could give up my iPhone, but then I suppose I could also cut off one of my legs to save on shoes.

Something I can control, though, is my grocery budget. So that's where I'm going to start: cutting food expenses.

According to, which I use to track my spending, I've spent an average of $270 per month on groceries. Considering I live alone and don't throw extravagant dinner parties, this is probably a lot higher than it needs to be.

Cutting food expenses, though, is harder than it seems. For one thing, there's no inexpensive grocery store within walking distance. I can hike the 2 kilometres to Fortinos, or go the other way and hit the Farmers' Market. Neither are cheap. For another thing, I'm not home a lot, so, if I'm going to take my own food to work, I need to do a fair amount of advanced planning--not my strong suit (read my very long post on adult ADD and you'll understand).

But there are some things I can do. So here's what I'm going to try:
  • No more convenience store shopping. It's a whole lot easier, but it's also a whole lot more expensive.
  • Change what I buy: bagged milk, rather than cartons. Store brands, rather than name brands. Stuff that's on sale, rather than sticking to the same old, same old. Stuff that will freeze, so I can stock up on ingredients and sale stuff without having them go bad.
  • Plan, plan, plan--but take advantage of sales when they come along.
Will it work? Well, it has to. I'll keep you posted.

If you have any tips for saving on your grocery budget, feel free to share! I'm open to suggestions.


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