Disclosure: The following is a guest post written by Russell Matthews.
Personal-finance columns routinely tell you to never shop for groceries without a monthly budget. A budget, though, isn’t a fixed thing. It needs to evolve to keep up with the way your life changes over the years. The kind of money-saving rules that you need to live by are one thing when you’re single and another when you have family, for instance.
When you’re single
Cooking at home, rather than eating out, is the best way to stick to a budget. It can be expensive to buy meat for single-portion meals, though. It can also be difficult to make it seem worthwhile to step into the kitchen and cook a whole meal just for yourself.
The idea with cooking for one, then, should be to prepare your food in bulk. You can buy a deep freezer, cook in large quantities once every two weeks and store everything in it in microwavable plastic bags. This way, you will have no cooking to do for days on end. You’ll be able to just visit the “frozen foods department” in your kitchen come mealtime every day, pick out something and throw it in the microwave for a meal.
When you have a family
Having a whole family to support can be enough to put a strain on most budgets. If your budget is a small one, though, you need to put in time and work to save, every chance you get.
For instance, since a family with two or three children needs generous amounts of food, looking for bulk deals on groceries can make sense. You also need to pay attention to all the coupons that you find at couponing destinations like www.sumocoupon.com, in newspapers and on the websites and Facebook pages of manufacturers.
Once you retire
When you retire, you stop making a regular income off a job and instead come to depend on your savings and investments. When you have a strictly limited income, you need to restrict your lifestyle to make sure that it never exceeds what you get.
The upside of a limited income is that you know exactly what you’re getting. Considering that your responsibilities are mostly done with at this stage, your expenses are likely to be routine ones, too. You’ll be able to plan what to spend each month and simply stick to the same routine. You won’t have any surprise expenses to make room for.
Getting together with your retired friends and pooling your resources in a number of ways can be an excellent way to make your money go farther at this stage is that you can. For instance, you can buy all your groceries together in bulk and save. When you need to travel, you can buy your tickets as a group and demand wholesale discounts. You can even hire a personal trainer for your whole group.
Russell Matthews spends his days doing laundry and attending princess tea parties as a stay-at-home dad of two girls. He enjoys blogging about the household experiences and smart ways to budget and manage a house. Follow Russell’s tweets here.