Me too.

I remember the days when I would wake up in the morning, pack each kid their lunch which consisted of sandwiches or left overs, a fruit, a few packaged treats like a granola bar along with a juice box and call it a day. They would come home after school, raid the cupboard and grab a snack or two until dinner.

Now I am spending at least 30% more on my grocery bill! I am buying more meat, more snacks because now that there is no in person school/sports/socializing with friends, my cupboard and fridge have become everybody’s best friend. I found my son Nate opening the fridge door about an hour after lunch the other day-which is one of multiple times a day.

“What are you looking for?”

“Nothing in particular. Just want a snack.”

Is it really any wonder we are spending a ton more on food with the boredom, the lack of organized activities and let’s not forget Mom and Dad’s alcohol consumption. I mean, I had a budget. The car ride home from work used to be the event that set the boundary between work life and home life. Now, it is the crack of the can. It is a mighty symbol that speaks to my soul, “Your work day is over, now you can start your evening at home.”

Listen, I gave myself permission to do things differently a long time ago-like 2 weeks into this freakin’ pandemic. And if you haven’t yet, you should. Stop the guilt and go with the flow my friend.

So here are a few tips to help you curb the cash flow as we are searching for the “New Normal”.

Figure Out Where You Are Spending Your Money

I have had a budget for a while now because I actually wanted to gauge what I am spending. I knew I was spending more in the first few months of this COVID pandemic, but could not put my finger on what exactly was bumping my credit card to unimaginable values. After tracking my spending for a couple of months, I was able to figure it out. Food and beer. Pulling up a close third was on line shopping.

Just by tracking and identifying this was helpful. So, let’s piggy back on this thought for a sec.

Create a Grocery List

Food and Beer. The big players on my credit card.

I was never really one to go to the store without a list, but I was definitely one to toss a ton of additional items in the cart along with the list items….just cuz. Create a list for yourself and commit to yourself that you will grab what is on that list. ONLY. And here is why: When you grocery shop “willy-nilly” I guarantee you that you are buying stuff you don’t need. In fact, I would bet you that some of those items you bought got thrown in the garbage because they went past their prime before they were eaten. Shop with a list and you can save up to 35% on your grocery bill.

Don’t believe me? Try it. I dare you.

Create a “To Buy” List

We call this simply “The List” in our house.

“Mom, can you buy me some cherries?”

“Add it to The List.”

Everybody in our house is trained that when they want me to buy something for them or they are running out of something, they add it to The List. This is the stepping stone to not only saving money at the grocery store, but saving time as well. When was the last time you went grocery shopping on Saturday and by Wednesday you realized you ran out of eggs, apple juice and milk? The List is meant to be a place to write items down that not only you need, but items you are running low on, thereby decreasing your trips to the store.

Use Your Freakin’ Flyers

When you see that boneless skinless chicken breasts are on sale for $3.99/lb, grab at least 2 trays. Listen, I check out the flyers and I use them to build what we are eating through the week. Broccoli is on sale? We have broccoli at least twice a week as a side. Chicken is on sale? You got it-we are having chicken at least twice a week for dinner.

And there you have it. 4 small things to keep in mind to save you both time and money. And listen, keep these habits going even after the world opens up and your kids are back at school! You will notice a difference not only in the number of trips to make to pick up what you ran out of but also, when buying what you NEED that is written on your list, you second guess the items you WANT to buy that are not on your list.

Take a pause. Take a breathe and hang in there.

Stay sassy friends.