There are many words that my friends use to describe me. Punctual, kind and friendly are ones that come to mind but recently I've been getting a new title, "cheap". Now I'm sure when they say that I am cheap they don't mean that I stand on the corner of Hammond and 5th concession waiting for cars to drive by but I prefer to be called "frugal".
My frugal ways came about in University. Through the school you get a meal plan card that has a certain limit on it and once it's maxed out you have to pay with cash. I was worried during my second semester that I would run out of meal plan points so I decided to cut back on a few things. For example, in the mornings I loved to go get a tea from Tim Horton's but I determined that if I just got hot water then I wouldn't have to sacrifice any points.
One of the greatest tools my parents ever gave me was the knowledge of how to save, budget and spend money properly. I have my monthly expenses calculated, what I need in my bank account weekly to pay them off and how much I have to spend freely with. Here's a little example:
Groceries-$400.00/ month $100.00/week
Vacation Fund- $80.00/month $20.00/week
I find writing everything down has really helped with being able to see where my money is going. I have a little red book where I write down all of my spending and at the end of the month I calculate it all up to determine if I overspend/underspent and on what.
Groceries have become a big part of my budget planning. My boyfriend and I buy the groceries and share them, even though we don't live together. Here is an example of one of the weeks of our 6 week meal plan:
Sunday- Roast Beef (or chicken), mashed potatoes/fixings Cooking: Ryan/Lindsay
Monday- Sheppard's Pie Cooking: Ryan
Tuesday- Beef Tortilla's Cooking: Ryan
Wednesday- Chicken Carbonara Cooking: Lindsay
Thursday- BBQ Pork Chops, roasted Potatoes Cooking: Lindsay
** Every Friday is Pizza night and Saturday's are the day off ****
With this meal plan (there's 6 weeks of planned meals in total) plus lunch and breakfast items we are able to spend $100.00 a week on groceries. I follow a grocery list very carefully. As I cross an item off the list I put the price beside it and then at the end I take out my handy-dandy calculator and add it all up. If it's over $100.00 then I take something out I really don't need and if it's under I can get a treat.
(Yes, I'm that loser in the grocery store with a calculator, ha ha)
I know having a meal plan and tight budget might not seem very exciting to some people but I like being organized and I love seeing my savings and RRSP's grow with the extra money that I am saving. The extra money that I am making at my second job has allowed me to renovate the house that I grew up in, that I know call my own. I know it doesn't sound like I'm a young, unmarried 22 year old but I think living a little strick right now will really pay off down the road.
I will be posting $10 dollar meal recipes in the future. So keep checking back for money saving meals!