Penny Pinchers Forum
My first answer is probably not what she was dying to hear. I said, "Well, it never will make sense on paper, but somehow it just works. The Lord provides & each month you just manage to make it."
Then I moved on to more practical advice. I know she not the only one trying to make money work, so I'll share a few things that I said:
1. Buy groceries in bulk (hello Costco!) & try to do one trip for the whole month. Obviously a few things you'll have to buy throughout the month, but keep it to a minimum. Put the quantities you'll need for the next week or two in your fridge/cupboard. Tightly store the remaining dry goods & freeze what others you can. I freeze the other portions of cheese, milk, tortillas, lunch meat, bread etc. Then try to use what you have for the whole month (this may require you planning a month's worth of meals ahead of time). Wait until you're pantry is bare before going to the grocery store again.
2. Don't buy pre-made or processed foods. Instead of buying frozen chicken strips learn how to make your own. Rather than frozen pizza make it homemade. I've started making oodles of pancakes & then freezing them, in the morning I just throw them in the microwave for a few seconds. This is much cheaper than pre-made frozen waffles from the store.
4. Don't buy "stuff". In our culture we have a bad habit of buying stuff we don't really need. Of course every once in a while you need to treat yourself & your family, but just be conscience of what you buy. For instance ask yourself, does your child really need another t-shirt? I know it's only $1.50, but do they really need it? You'll save a lot of money by not buying stuff.
5. Use cash! Avoid the credit card. The balance will creep up on you & before you know it $250 of your monthly budget is going towards your credit card bill. When you do use your credit card ask yourself "Do I want to pay interest on this?" Is a McDonald's Happy Meal really worth paying 9% interest on?! (Factoid: most credit card purchases in the U.S. are spent at McDonalds)
6. Get creative! Use what you already have to decorate your home. Hit garage sales & Craig's List for big items you may want/need. Find a new way to use cream of mushroom soup. You've got to stretch your imagination to stretch your dollar.