A reader’s view: The evolution of our budget

This is a Guest Post By Mr. CBB who blogs at Canadian Budget Binder and aims to help people save money in their budget by motivating them to stick to a budget and say NO to spending more than they earn. Enjoy!

I’ve been a saver all of my life. Back home (I’m not from Canada) I used to get points for scanning what I bought with a hand held device and would use the points to buy household items. I always cooked my meals at home and rarely, if ever, bought convenience foods. I went to the grocery store often to fill my small refrigerator with fresh vegetables, milk and other essentials.

I didn’t let money go easily and I saved cash for everything I did. I hated owing money to anyone and a mortgage was as far as I wanted go into debt.

Mrs. CBB was also a saver, but in other ways. Moving to Canada, she didn’t spend much when it came to groceries. She lived on cereal, crackers, cheese and other basic foods. She didn’t cook much as she felt it bothersome and too much effort for one person. She never ate out, or spent money frivolously on drinks at the pub with her mates. She bought clothes when she needed them and lived a comfortable and active lifestyle. Coupons were an essential part of her savings plan but not to the extent that it is now.

While I was in school, I came across a website called save.ca and started ordering coupons in the mail. We never used a real budget and all our saving was done in our heads.  Once we bought our own home, we learned about other sites that would send coupons in the mail like Websaver, Brandsaver and Go Coupons. There are scads of couponing websites for Canadians that guide you how to use coupons such as “stockpiling tips” and “where to find Canadian Coupons” to name a few. Then we really started to notice the deals in the shops and how we could get items for near nothing or free. We started emailing companies of products we used to give them feedback and they would mail us rare High Value coupons that you can’t find in stores. We also started saving Optimum points at Shoppers Drug Mart which became very lucrative and still is today, if you know the program. Sadly, the fun has diminished as others have jumped on the bandwagon.

Fast forward to 2011, and we started using a real budget, full time. We had started one earlier but never stuck to it because it was either difficult to read or was too basic that it didn’t realistically capture our needs. We needed to set goals as a couple and develop a plan that was easy to stick to. When I started to blog I wrote about our budgeting steps along the way, but writing about it is one thing and living it is another. Although we are just finishing up small design changes to our current budget we will have a copy available for download shortly. It’s simple, easy to read and has everything we needed to make sure we were on track with our budget.

Over the course of 2011, this is what we spent and saved on groceries:

  • $4789.23 Spent on Groceries, Health and Beauty, Pet and Laundry Out of Pocket
  • $7428.81 Saved with coupons and deals which includes 4 mega redemptions at $250 each.

Looking back we realized how much money we saved, but we also felt that we were spending too much money for 2 people on groceries. We went from spending anywhere from $350-$500 or more down to under $200. We wanted to get back to basics and cook from scratch and stop purchasing items we don’t need or because we had a coupon. We quit smoking  at the end of January 2012 and are still smoke free today.

We realized that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stick to your goals. Our grocery budget for 2 is now $190 per month and we stick to it best we can by playing The Grocery Game Challenge. It’s been amazing the feedback we have been getting from our fans who say the Grocery Game saved their budget.

 

Budgeting has become an integral part of our financial health and I don’t know how we survived without it. We have come so far since the first spreadsheet and it’s fun to look back and see where all our money went. I can only encourage others to use a budget because ultimately one’s financial health is in their own hands. If you set goals, keep moving forward even if there are setbacks. Nothing comes easy in life and any step forward is better than no step at all. It may be hard at first to say “No, I’m on a budget” but you get used to it. Spending money you have not yet earned is simply opening a hole of debt. Save the cash, save the headache.  Budgeting is not about how much money you make, it’s what you do with it.
Posted in: Food and Grocery, Money

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12 Comments

  1. $190 on groceries? That’s awesome! I live in a two person household and we typically spend under $450 on groceries, which is a number I’m comfortable with. We don’t use coupons at all though, I always find they’re for items I’m not interested in buying.

    • Our grocery budget also includes health and beauty and laundry items. We always use coupons for these items which help offset the cost on pricier grocery items.Coupons are great for flour, oatmeal, spices, eggs, fruit,cheese, butter, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, bread,orange juice etc all items we use in our home. Cheers Mr.CBb

  2. Jason says:

    I have to say that your financial progress (as I’ve followed your blog) is truly impressive. If there is any reason people should believe that budgeting and being financially savvy works, then all they need to do is look at somebody that has succeeded by following his own advice. Good timing with this and your Net Worth post today; adding $7k to your net worth in a month is impressive!

    • Cheers Jason, it’s more a lifestyle now than anything but certainly the budget has helped us tremendously. We’ve learned along the way, made mistakes and work on improving those errors to turn them into positives. Thanks for being a part of the blog Jason! Cheers mate. Mr.CBB

  3. Catherine says:

    You guys are super impressive. Sort of mind blowing actually, good job!

    • Hey Catherine,
      Thanks so much for the kind words. It’s a life that Mrs.CBB and I have worked hard at building whilst enjoying the present doing everything we love to do. Everything takes time in life… patience is a virtue. Cheers Mr.CBB

  4. I have to agree with everyone….it truly is impressive what you two have been able to do! That’s quite the savings…the most we ever manage to get even with coupons is 50%! And we’re not even living in Canada!

    • Thanks FF. We just stopped buying stuff just because we had a coupon. We also started cooking as much as we could from scratch and no more boxed type items if we can help it. We really want to focus on the basics in the kitchen which takes a bit more work, but we love it. Over time you get used to it. I think we all tend to follow the convenience route some days because we can and that’s certainly just choice. Hey, a pizza every once in a while didn’t hurt any one! Mr.CBB

  5. I’m so impressed — I should really look back into coupons. They don’t sound so bad after all!

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