Stocking Up on the Cheap
Does your family play the, “What if we won the lottery” game? I have an unfortunate feeling that in order to win, you have to play. And…we don’t. But, that hasn’t stopped us having fun conversations about the home, land, horses, travel, and charities that would feature in our Millionaires’ Life. Dreaming of hundreds of acres, mountain vistas, lives of leisure, and good we’d do is certainly an entertaining pastime. Unfortunately, that same feeling warns that any bolstering of our family fortunes will be due to hard work and careful management. Those two things aren’t as much fun as a check from the state lottery, but they’re easier to get.
In our Pantry Building series, we have been discussing the layers of pantry storage. Pantries can prevent three grocery store trips a week, help avoid emergency Chinese take-away, or feed families in hard times. The only real difference is scale, since each layer builds on the last. Financial windfalls vary in scale too. If you don’t win the lottery, you might still receive a tax refund, unexpected overtime pay, or you might just get five bucks back with coupons.
If you win the lottery, you and your pantry are on your own! I have no experience with numbers that high. Although, if the lottery board wants to write a check, I ‘ll choose to accept that mission! However, I’m going to assume people with winning lottery numbers read about sports cars and yachts, rather than how to buy food on the cheap.
We, non-lottery winners, do occasionally find ourselves with a bit of unexpected cash. If you’re lucky enough to receive a budget boost, your pantry might be a good place to store it. Keeping a pantry is a priority for our family. (Okay fine, food in general, is a priority.) So, there have been times we’ve put tax refunds, work bonuses, and even Christmas cash toward stocking up. Though some of our pantry was bought with ‘extra’ money, most of it has been pieced together five dollars and a loss leader at a time. There are many strategies for grocery shopping on the cheap. The idea with pantry building is to take that saved money and invest it, when possible, in future groceries.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I received a $200.00 credit on my electric bill. (I live in Texas. So, this is slightly less likely than winning the lottery, but a girl can dream.) Obviously, I need to take the time to choose the best place to put this cash. Should it go to my regular budget? Do I have a pressing need it could meet? Should I hang on to it in savings? Am I in such a great financial position that I can use it for a treat or vacation? Let’s assume I have both the need and the wherewithal to put the entire thing towards my pantry.
I could take the cash to a store and buy $200 worth of food. This would be far more responsible, than spending it on take-away, restaurant food, or even a head-to-toe spa day. (I know $200 would barely cover a spa mani-pedi, but this entire scenario is based on an electric rebate in TEXAS! This is fantasy land, and I’m enjoying the trip!) The question becomes, how much food do I get for my $200. For example, if I purchase high-quality food at the Posh Nosh Shoppe, that money would probably only feed my family for a couple of days. At a mid-range store, $200 could feed us for a week or it could stretch to three weeks depending on what I buy.
There are many ways to get more bang for your grocery buck. We’re going to discuss several of these in a series of posts. The overriding concept though is: PLAN. Take the time to shop consciously. I’ve never been one of those retail therapy-loving people. However, I do get a buzz from getting a good deal. It isn’t about buying something I don’t need and ‘saving’ 50%. I don’t believe you can save when spending money you planned to keep. It’s about taking the money I plan to spend and stretching it to cover as much useful quality (cool) goods as possible.
Please join me, for this series: Filling Your Pantry on the Cheap. What would you do with a $200 windfall? Would you save, spend, splash out, or stock up?