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My Thoughts on Living on a Budget

Buying just food, is no problem at all on $30 a week. This is my 16th week of living on $30 a week. Adjustments were made for my job and for certain things that may come up and some that definitely will. So far my concessions for work and coffee have been the main adjustments and it has all been very straightforward. I’m happy with the way I’ve been cooking and eating, not much has changed as far as my diet is concerned.

SNAP is supplemental and I have to remind myself that fact. I hope people with families are able to get food from other sources, if they need to. From my own standpoint and having actually gone through rough spots due to high bills at times and being jobless at other times, I have managed. There was never a time when I thought I couldn’t get by with a child with what was available to me. People helped, too; family and friends with short loans to get from paycheck to paycheck. It’s not an ideal way to live. A good job is an important part of your life: It gives life. The times I did struggle were of my own doing, I bit off more than I could chew with payments and I should’ve been much more careful with money. Instead of spending, I should’ve saved. But I learned. I learned the hard way. Even though, I do have to say that I was taught well – the few people I learned money skills from did teach me about not owing people money and to work efficiently and be reliable and trustworthy and honest. And then came social trends – cars and furniture and clothes, credit card bills adding up all the time. Once this happens you realize, it’s time to look for a way out and you have reassess spending habits. Basic money skills go a long way. Rethinking how to do things, scaling back in a way that does not leave you feeling deprived, but leaves you feeling free. Living within your means, means a lot.

At this point in my budget project, I’ve done a lot of thinking about how much is spent on quality. I am going to have real life figures. I’m keeping tabs on my food budget, a separate tally of coffee, and my work meals, and anything food related that comes up. It’s interesting now and the reflection on this year I hope will help others in learning to budget and live off of real food that is home cooked.

So far, quite honestly, there would be some things I know I would add to be included in my future budget. I’d cook more with alcohol, I love to cook with sherry and marsala – I have not used any at all. I’d buy different oils like walnut and good quality olive oil. I’d definitely buy more chocolate. Spices and flavors like extracts are pricey items but they last a long time – a once or twice a year expense. Nuts are a big issue with me, I love them like crazy, but, I’ve only been buying walnuts. I would buy more of a variety to keep on hand, I love to cook with them and just simply eat them. Cheese is another item that occasionally I’d buy something more expensive, a brie or swiss or smoked mozzarella. Produce like avocados and mangoes that are more expensive, I may buy more of when they are in season.

Looking at my spending habits this year and adding in these other things for my future budget, I think I’ll be able to have a realistic view of how to live on a limited budget and how to live within my own means in the future. Adding in the above items, and in keeping with not only my means but a healthy diet of home cooking, my weekly budget will probably not change all that much – I’m thinking the increase would be about five to ten dollars. And that’s do-able!

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