What would happen if you only went shopping once a month?
Would you become more organized? Would you become more creative? Would you become more mindful of waste? Would you save a ton of money?
It’s time to get down to business – the business of cutting your future grocery bills in HALF. Start the new year with a new way of shopping.
You can change these around to fit your family’s needs, of course, but following you can find our family’s guidelines for Once-a-Month Shopping.
- We take one trip for each of our needs: groceries, animal supplies, and other supplies. These may all be undertaken on the same day, or they can be split up based on the way your family gets paid.
- Spend some time checking out the sales at various stores in your area. We make a day of it, hitting several different grocery stores after checking the sale flyers online.
- Supplies that can be obtained outside of regular retail environments are exempt. For example, if you barter with a neighbor, purchase some craft supplies at a yard sale, or go get a bushel of apples directly from a local farmer, these things don’t count as “going to the store.” This is a way you can make up for a shortfall in your supplies while still abiding by the “no stores” rule. However, ordering a new item from Amazon or another online retailer would be considered cheating.
- We go out for two meals per month. This might be Chinese takeout, pizza delivery, or a restaurant meal. A meal out can break up the monotony and help you stick to your no-stores challenge. Based on your budget and your family’s habits, decide if, and how many, meals you’ll have out.
- Don’t hesitate to break the rules if it’s a matter of health or safety. Obviously, I don’t want to see your dog starve for a week because you underestimated the amount of dog food that you required for the month. Nor would I want someone to go without safety goggles at a new job until the end of the month. Adhere to the no-stores rule only if it makes sense.
If you have health reasons that require you to eat more fresh food, then by all means, work in a second shopping trip each month to pick up those items. When my daughter was dieting, she required some extra veggies to munch on so we made a second trip 2 weeks into the month to supply those needs. You might consider other options like sprouting or windowsill gardening in the winter or a full-on vegetable garden in the summer.
Always use common sense with these challenges. 😊
How to get started
Plan a trip to each type of store that you use. If money is a problem, you can split these shopping trips up.
- A trip to the grocery store
- A trip to a general merchandise store like Target or Wal-Mart
- A trip to the feed store/pet store if it’s necessary for your family
With each trip, you’re going to predict what you need to run your household for an entire month. The next article will go into more detail about these shopping trips.
The financial benefits
As prices go up, it’s easy to spend a little here and spend a little there until you are shocked to discover that you have nothing left. The easiest way to prevent that might be to stay away from temptation. Going to do your shopping only one time in a month will help you stay away from those impulse purchases that always seem to hop into the cart. It will be easier to keep track of your spending if it’s all in one large trip.
When we lived in the city, we got into the habit of “just stopping to get one thing” several times per week. This added up, and our grocery bill got out of control.
When you set yourself a monthly budget, it can be difficult to keep track if you run to the store all the time. But when you shop once a month, you can withdraw the cash you need to purchase your items and stay within your budget more easily.
When I did this before, it made a massive difference in my grocery budget, and I think you’ll see the same results. After the first month, it’s far easier to shop this way because the money will be readily available when you haven’t shopped for several weeks.
The organizational benefits
If you know you only have one shot at getting all your supplies for the month, you’re going to be far more organized about that shopping trip.
You’ll be forced to calculate your needs in advance so that you can get everything you’ll require. You’ll need to consider things like special events that are coming up during the month (are you celebrating any birthdays or holidays?), guests that may be arriving, and outings for the kids that might require snacks or certain supplies.
During the month, you can keep a list as you discover things you’d normally “run to the store” to pick up. This list can be fulfilled during the next monthly shopping trip, at which time you may discover you that you already found a satisfactory substitute for the missing product.
We also found that when we shopped with an eye toward longer-term groceries, we added to our stockpile without even trying. There were always shelf-stable or frozen food items left at the end of the month that could be put toward our general pantry.
The creative benefits
When you shop on a monthly basis, you’ll find that there are many ways to skin a theoretical cat. (Don’t skin a real cat. I like cats. A lot.)
If you run out of an item during the month, it’s time to put on your problem-solving hat and come up with a replacement that doesn’t come from the store. Maybe you can repurpose something you already have. Maybe you can create the item out of supplies you have on hand. Maybe you can find it at a yard sale, borrow it from a friend, barter for it, or simply live without it. Whatever way you find around the missing item, it’s sure to get your wheels turning.
How often do you shop?
This article has more tips to help you get started.
Do you grocery shop weekly? Monthly? Multiple times per week? Let’s talk about it in the comments.