would you mind disclosing what you spend each month on food and toiletries?"
To be honest- I am pretty disorganized when it comes to typing in my receipts to Quicken. Hubby gets everything done about once a month but I never know how I'm doing budget wise at any given time. I also don't have a strict budget for food or anything else. We probably need to work on this but I'm pretty particular about what I buy so we don't worry about it too much. I'll have to do my homework but I'm sure that there are other people out there who are doing much better at saving money than I am. We eat out too much and I buy too much convenience food. (Yes, I succumbed to the dreaded frozen pbj sandwiches- at least I had a coupon). I'll have to type in my receipts and tell you the sad truth.
If you are in dire straits though I do have some advice-
1. Stop buying anything that isn't absolutely necessary.
2. Survey your freezer, pantry and fridge and make a list of all food you have in the house. You probably have enough for at least a weeks worth of meals- maybe more. There are websites like
RecipeLand where you can type in ingredients to get recipes.
3. This goes with #1. Eat at home and brown bag your lunch.
4. Buy ingredients rather than ready made food. You can even make your own bread fairly easily.
5. Shop discount- Aldis, Trader Joe's, Dented Can groceries. All these are great places to find cheaper food if you know your prices. But, still- buy ingredients.
6. Don't be afraid to let people know why you aren't spending. Maybe they'll want to help you out with coupons or a dinner at their house. Maybe they have some hand me downs for your kids. There's no shame in being poor and trying to make do.
7. Cancel everything that you can't eat, doesn't keep a roof over your head, or keep you warm at night. That's right- get rid of DTV, cable, Netflix, Blockbuster, and any other expensive money sucker that drains your wallet monthly. Do you have a library card?
8. Don't throw anything out. A tablespoon of vegetables makes a great start to a freezer soup container. I started my second batch of freezer soup yesterday and today it has last night's leftover frozen veggies and the water swirled leavings from a spaghetti sauce can. When the container gets full just add some water and bouillon or stock and whatever else you have laying around to make soup. Yesterday I made cranberry walnut bread with our leftovers from Thanksgiving. It was wonderful. And old pair of jeans can be cut up to use for jean patches or to make cheap bean bags for Christmas gifts. I have done both of these things with great success. I recently cut up an old pair of pajama pants to make draft blockers. Stale bread makes great croutons, bread pudding and bread crumbs.
9. Recycle. While you're dropping off your old magazines (did you check them for coupons?) look and see if there are any good coupon inserts. I have found many clean, unused coupon inserts in our local paper recycling bin. Did you know you can even swap or ebay your extra coupons?
10. Sell your stuff. Go through your house and collect your old stuff. Ebay it or Craiglist it and get a few dollars.