I never used to put much thought into the way I spent my money. I never planned or monitored anything. I knew more or less how much I spent on certain things every month and I thought that was all I needed. A vague idea of where my money went. It’s pretty amazing, then, that I’ve managed to reduce my grocery spending by R2000.

The idea of sitting down, working out budgets and reassessing your finances doesn’t really excite anyone. Well, at least no one I know. It seems like a daunting, time consuming task and for the most part we would rather be doing other things. But 22seven gave me the tools to manage and understand my money better, in a clear and simple way. I decided to relook my budget, and I was completely astonished at how much I spent on groceries each month.

I have to admit to being a big foodie. I love cooking and baking: it is my hobby, my ‘me’ time and my creative outlet. But I never thought twice about what it was costing me to create these magnificent meals. So I would often turn a blind eye to the R400+ grocery bill for that weekend’s baking marathon.

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That was until I used my ‘Money Month’ in 22seven and had a look at my average spend in the ‘Groceries’ category. It was at least R2 000 – R2 500 more than I had had in mind. I had to do something about this, because I was not okay with spending close to R7000 a month on groceries for two people.

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I had a good think about how I could change my spending habits and reduce my grocery bill. The first issue I wanted to address was how I went about buying my groceries.

Going to the shop every night after work was not ideal. I never had a set meal plan in my head for the week, so I would end up thinking about this at 5pm, and stop at the shop on my way home to buy the necessary ingredients. 

I also told myself that this would work out cheaper, as I didn’t want the food to spoil in the fridge and I was getting the freshest daily ingredients.

This may have been slighty true, but in reality I was going into the shop on a daily basis and falling victim to the maze of things I didn’t need. I would go in to get some fresh pasta, bacon and cream for a carbonara and walk out with an extra bottle of wine, chocolate and something else that I didn’t really need. This small, seemingly insignificant fact was the reason behind my astonishing grocery bill.

If I had just gone into the shop for what I really needed I would have been paying, say, R80 for that night’s dinner ingredients. Instead I would end up paying R170 – R200 for all the little extras. Essentially I was almost doubling the cost of dinner every night.

How could I fix this? Something had to change. I needed a game plan.

I went into ‘Track’ on my Money Month and set up a planned amount going forward for my ‘Groceries’ category.
I really love this feature because it makes it easy for me to quickly see how well I am doing when it comes to my expenses and staying within my budget. This was the first step to getting on the right track.

My next step was to actually plan what I wanted to make that week. It helps me out in two ways: one, I don’t ever have to struggle with the “What do I make for dinner tonight?” question. And two, because I have it planned out,
I can do one big shop at the beginning of the week. No extras falling into the grocery basket every night. 
The simple task of planning my week’s meals, going to the shop once and using the 22seven app to track my expenses has really helped.

I have learnt a lot about my money and spending habits. I have learnt that there are tools out there that can help you manage your money in more ways than you can imagine and that a little bit of planning can really change the way you spend your money. The small acts of seeing where my money is going, tracking my purchases and setting a goal limit has helped me tremendously. I can now put that money to better use, and save up for that vacation I have been planning for a while.

 

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Taryn Bain

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Taryn works with 22seven, has a slight obsession with food, astronomy, history and half finishing at least a dozen books at a time.
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