New year resolutions

Everyone starts off the New Year trying to make resolutions that they hope they will keep. A lot of people like to join a gym and get fit, others perhaps cut out the fattening food that they love so much but does them so much harm. Others simply try and change the way in which they behave.

My resolution is to spend more wisely

This January I think a lot of families including ourselves will be resolving to use their money more wisely. Perhaps more wisely than they had done in the past. Now this is really nothing new for us especially over the last few years. Having a toddler means that there is usually less money floating about and when it does it always requires a little bit more thinking through when it comes to making purchases for various things.

However in the current economic climate and the ever so slight threat that things are not going to be great in January I do think that we and everybody else will be thinking very hard about the next penny that we spend. One aspect in our expenditure where we have made considerable changes is that in the way we do our weekly food shopping.

The past is no more

In the past I have found myself driving to the local supermarket on my way home from work to pick up a few things that would probably not amount to any more than say for instance £8. However I am the supermarket managers dream. I fall for all the psychological tricks and tips that they use to get customers to buy all the things that they don’t really need but that the supermarket really wants to sell. Whilst these things are usually aimed at children so that they can pester their put on parents I seem to fall for them too.

This probably says something about me and my psychological position in life or the fact that I just happen to be a man, I really don’t know. The point is I end up spending not £8 pounds but usually double trouble that. This is illustrated beautifully by the state of our credit card statement every month. My wife and I have a credit card which goes to the same account where we put all of the family spending on. We choose to pay the balance back in full every month so therefore we do not pay any interest. I am very proud of the fact that we have never paid a penny in interest for years and years and years.

This is on principle of the fact that banks make enough money out of us and have lost enough of our money in recent years so I don’t feel it appropriate that I should give them any more money that they can put a further risk. Apart from the moral standpoint this is also good principle on household finances. Interest payment on credit card can be very high and thankfully we have not been in the position where we need to pay that back on top of the other expenditure that we have incurred.

However the most worrying aspect of all of the supermarket shopping I seem to be doing is not so much the frequency in which I go to these places but the money that is being spent inside of them. So my wife and I sat down and devised a strategy based on what was in front of us on the statement. It was clearly obvious that there were far too many trips to the supermarket.

Watching the pennies

This had a knock-on effect on the cost of actually having to use petrol to drive to these places plus the usual cost of buying various bits and pieces that really we did not need plus there was also the time to take into consideration. So, do we therefore need to make a case for planning what we needed seven days in advance? Writing a list of everything and physically going to the supermarket buying exactly what was on the list and not straying from it one bit was, I found, a very difficult thing to do. Supermarkets and their managers are very very good in getting their customers to get the things that they don’t really need which has clearly been obvious from my experience.

So, perhaps the answer lay online

We’ve opted to go straight to for our first online shopping experience. This was largely due to the fact that we seem to do a lot of shopping Tesco anyway and that a lot of our favourites were saved on our Clubcard. This proved to be a great advantage when it came to ordering the things that we normally would buy anyway. The first and second online shops can take a little while where you find all the things that you want. Some things are not the places where you would normally expect them to be and it is tempting to just close the whole thing down and walk away. We decided that we would persevere and I’m so glad we did. We are now around about 8 months into this online shopping and it really works for us as a family.

We have become very good at planning seven days ahead what we’re going to eat including food to take to work and things for our three-year-old. We factor in that it is going to cost us money for the privilege of having the stuff delivered which at the minute averages around about five pounds per delivery which is around £20. However this is a pretty good trade-off. I no longer have to drive to the supermarket in all kinds of weather and struggle with bags of heavy groceries in and out of the car.

There was also the time aspect of things as well. If I were to do a full weekly shop at the supermarket I could very easily take two hours out of my evening in which to do so. And I think supermarkets know this is a big constraint on people too. They have made it very easy for customers to place orders with them online.

Obviously, using the computer in the our spare room is a very comfortable with do our weekly food shopping. But it is now possible to use your iPhone and the free downloadable app that Tesco have developed in order to comfortably do your shopping from the comfort of your settee.

Working out nicely

Initially I was very sceptical about this but it really does work very well. All of this does lead to a very positive endpoint for us. We no longer buy any of the things that we really don’t need but only get the things we definitely do. We are also very good now scoring for the special offers and buy one get one free offers as they are very easy to find online then you know where to look for them. Our monthly shopping bills now are around about £200 per month in comparison with a bill of around about £400 per month when I was driving to the supermarket on my way home from work. However this is just one aspect of the strategy.

The other aspect is actually what we do with the ingredients when we get them. This has required a complete overhaul on the way we eat and the way we cook as a family. I shall save some of my pearls of wisdom for the next blog post. The only thing is they’re not really secrets they are complete common sense that have been publicised by celebrity chefs and money experts alike.

However I tend to take a lead from real people and families in a similar situation. If they can do it then so can we. I am actually quite ashamed that we did not do this sooner.

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