In case I haven’t mentioned it (ya right?) I am a BROKE college student with lots of debt, and in case it hasn’t been made clear I LOVE food.
Because I am broke and in debt I have been making a budget for myself the last year-ish, I have all my bills typed up each month on an excel sheet that is always in plain view and I cross my bills off as I pay them so I don’t forget any. Doing this means I usually budget myself for all my bills, I try and remember gas and food.
Yet somehow even though I do this I seem to always be pinching even smaller pennies than usual by the week of payday and half the time I end of overdrawing on either my checking account or a credit card resulting in fees and overnight bill pay charges eating into my already small funds. I have slowly been getting rid of unnecessary luxuries and paring things down, I do a lot less amazon shopping and am trying to do this 3-day rule thing, if you still want it in 3 days then you can buy it if I can justify it to myself, it has helped a lot. But again somehow I always come up short.
So after I set up my new bill worksheet (I had reached the end of the old one) I decided to look at where my last paycheck went……………………………it went to a school payment and bills and a few cosmetic things, one or two small fun things but it still seemed like I blew through it way to fast…….where did a big chunk go……FOOD!
I try very hard to plan out my meals so that I can save money and not waste food but I have clearly not adjusted too well to my new schedule.
Problem # 1 I have this “you are broke don’t spend more than you absolutely have to at the grocery store”. So I go in and buy as little as possible; which is great I walk out of grocery outlet with a $25-$30 grocery bill I have even allowed 1-2 impulse buys…….but because I went in with that mentality instead of a carefully planned out menu taking all meals and snacks into account, I didn’t get everything I need so I go back to the store later in the week to pick up a few things and walk out $20 later……then I go back a few days later for a few more things and walk out $15 later and my $25-30 grocery bill went up to $60-70 bucks for 10-15 days of eating……say what?!
Problem # 2 My schedule. Saturday and Sunday are great I eat breakfast in the AM, head to work, have a packed lunch and 1-2 snacks then when I get home I have dinner. The week is where it gets messy. Since I haven’t yet figured out how to plan for every meal and snack here is how my week goes:
Monday/Wednesday- have a smoothie for breakfast, go to class, come home and have eggs on toast for a 2nd breakfast/early lunch, pack dinner and work things and then go to 2nd class, go from 2nd class to work but haven’t packed a snack/meal to eat while driving from school to train station to rush to work so I stop and a fast food place….there goes $3-5 (each day). Go to work eat my snacks throughout my shift and eat dinner between 7:30-8:30pm, I get off work at 11:05 and catch the last train back to my car and am set to get home just before midnight….but it has now been 4.5-5.5 hours since I have eaten dinner and I am hungry again. And again instead of having packed a snack I can eat while driving (and I don’t want to make one at home at 12:15 at night, my roommates are asleep in our tiny place) I drive through fast food again, there is another $3-7.
Tuesday is a little better- I have a smoothie and eggs on toast for breakfast after a run then do some house chores. I have a simple lunch like today was top ramen, sometimes it is grilled cheese or pasta, whatever. Then I pack dinner and work things and head to work around 1:35pm. Go to work eat my snacks throughout my shift and eat dinner between 7:30-8:30pm, and again I get off work at 11:05 and catch the last train back to my car and am set to get home just before midnight….but it’s been 4.5-5.5 hours again since I have eaten dinner and I’m hungry. And again instead of having packed a snack I can eat while driving (and I don’t want to make one at home) I drive through fast food again, there is another $3-7.
Now I don’t actually get food every night, I would say 1 out of 3 nights I work but still. It adds up in the wallet and waste line.
I have potentially added anywhere from an extra $3-25 to my grocery bill in a week. And a few thousand calories to my week because its all fast food.
Figuring this out was eye opening. I know I have been rambling so if you are still with me here is my plan. Come payday I am going to withdraw $20 and put it in my wallet, that is my last minute food money that has to last me until the next paycheck, I can guilt free grab Starbucks or order a pizza or go to a restaurant, but once its gone, its gone. I am also going to better plan my meals and spend the extra $10 at the first trip to the grocery store so I don’t spend and extra $30 later. And I am only letting myself have that one trip, I cannot set foot back in the grocery store until the next weeks meal planning has been done and I am buying groceries for the next week. This should potentially save me about $50/paycheck which is HUGE for me.
Does anybody else ever wonder where their money goes?
Update since I wrote this about a week ago: I have started packing PB&J sandwiches for in between school and work and either another sandwich or a mini bag of chips or something for on my way home form work Mon-Wed and I am already doing so much better!!!! Also I have challenged myself to 30 days of no fast food (I don’t count good pizza as fast food, things like dominos, pizza hut and little Caesar’s totally count but not the good stuff). hahahaha.