I know the video above was a long one, so if you didn't watch it, here's the gist: I won't be recording our grocery spending on the blog anymore. In short, it's because I don't want to be tied to the $10.00 per week budget. Of course I'll still be sharing grocery savings, but I want to have the freedom of buying full-priced food without compromising honesty and integrity here on the blog (that is, leading you to believe we're on a strict budget, when we're not). The video has more whys and wherefores, if you're curious.
So, here's to celebrating the transition from "extreme" frugality, to just regular frugality! It's been a fun five years. Now, let's talk about what impact this has had on our finances and what it can do for you.
How Much Did The $10.00/week Plan Actually Save Us?
As I mentioned in the video, I was spending about $50.00 per week, or about $2,600 per year for the two of us. I came to marriage with a lot of skills, though (cooking from scratch, canning, etc.), and with experience shopping on a budget. Our personal savings over the past five years was about $1500 per year, or a total of $7500. Since it took a little while to whittle down to $20.00 from that original $50.00, let's call it an even $7000.00.
Looking back, $1500.00 per year doesn't sound like much. But you have to keep in mind that our transition was from "frugal" to "extremely frugal". Saving money is kind of like losing weight. A woman who weighs 200 pounds and loses 50 is going to look dramatically different. A 150 lb. woman who loses 15 pounds is still going to benefit, but not as much.
Is It For You? How to Calculate Potential Savings
Is the $10.00 per week budget for you? Let's count the savings and see if it's worth doing, even for a short amount of time. Tip: You can adjust the actual number to the cost of living in your state. This can range from $10.00 for cheaper states, to $20.00 for the most expensive states, like Alaska and Hawaii.
- Determine goal budget. (Example: $10.00 per person, per week.)
- Multiply goal budget by the number of people in your family, to determine weekly budget. (Example: $10.00 x 2 = $20.00.)
- Multiply weekly budget by 52 to determine yearly projected spending. (Example: $20.00 x 52 = $1040.)
- Multiply current monthly spending by 12 to determine average yearly spending. (Example: $50.00 x 12 = $2600.)
- Subtract the first total from the second. (Example: $2600 = $1040 = $1560.)
And that, my friends, is how much you could save by switching to an "extreme" grocery shopping (or not shopping... lol!) protocol.
Is Extreme Frugality Worth It?
1. Yes: Think about how much money you could save by dramatically reducing your grocery spending (most folks could easily do 50% like I did). Over the course of five years, many people I know could buy a house with the extra money they spend on groceries! Ask yourself if the grass-fed beef is benefiting you as much as getting into a home of your own (or buying better shoes, more books, donating to charity, etc.). I think even a short-term stint of extreme frugality would benefit most of us, in more ways than a fatter bank account. Frugality teaches us to be creative and thankful. Extreme frugality even more so.
2. No: I wouldn't trade home ownership for a lifetime of grass-fed beef, but some aspects of extreme frugality aren't beneficial long-term. Decades of eating conventional, cheap foods (especially highly-processed ones) can be problematic for many people. It concerns me that so many children are starting out life with weight problems, bees are dying, hormones everywhere are being disrupted. These are things we need to consider before committing to a lifetime of cheap food.
3. Maybe: There is a difference between long-term and short-term frugality. Everyone can do short-term frugality, but not everyone likes it. Long-term (or lifetime) frugality is only possible if you enjoy it. That means it will look different for everyone. Some people are okay with a lifetime of thrifted clothes, but not okay driving beater cars forever. Other people are happy to give up restaurants, but not travel. One housewife loves to cook, and another one would rather use coupons to buy prepared food. As time goes on and we get ahead financially, we can all embrace and benefit from our favorite forms of frugality forever, and ditch our least favorite parts. Isn't that good news?
So, I guess that's my tidbit for the week! I'm really looking forward to sharing new projects and frugal endeavors with you in the coming weeks and months.