INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Getting control of your finances means understanding how muchmoney you spend each month. In week 3's Money Watch 8 Challenge: 60 Days to Change, ourthree families focused on how to do just that.
One of the monthly expenses people have control over is food.
"When I come to the grocery store I usually have a list ofthings that I need," said Amy, a stay at home mom.
Amy spends about $100 a week on groceries for her family offour.
Peter Dunn is the financial expert behind 60 Days to Change.He said for Amy, and anyone trying to get a handle on monthlyspending, the grocery store is the perfect place to learn importantlessons.
"The grocery store is the single best place to work on yourfinancial habits because you go every single week. You're whippingout your credit card, debit card, or check book every single week.And you have choices," said Peter.
Peter went to the store with Amy, and showed her how toconcentrate on fresh foods, store brands and sale items.
"Controlling your monthly spending is about re-examining yourmonthly spending habits. From going out to eat, to going to thegrocery store even reexamining your utility bills," said Peter.
Amy's husband Brent believes the investment in groceries is agood one.
"She likes to cook, so some of the things she puts togetherare more than just meat loaf and mac and cheese. I'm willing tospend a little bit more in that department," said Brent.
"As far as grocery shopping, I would go to the grocery store,spend about $100 on groceries, and then find myself at the end ofthe week or two weeks throwing the majority of the groceries away,"said Nadia, a single mother.
Nadia said she was throwing away groceries, because insteadof using the food in her fridge, she would go out to eat with her3-year-old son Aidan.
"I calculated on one of my bank statements, that I wasspending $350 to $400 on food, on fast food and lunch and dinner,"said Nadia.
Nadia said she is now saving about $350 a month because shehas cut way back on dining out.
"Some "to-go" restaurant really sounds good and it reallysounds easy, but what I've been thinking of is, how much easierit's going to be on my bank account and how much more my savingsaccount is going to grow if I am just a little moreself-disciplined about coming home and preparing my meals," saidNadia.
Merita said, "I know that one of my bad habits is. I feellike I was never born in the depression, but I shop as if I was. SoI stockpile. This is a deal, so I load up. Cause I know that oneday we will run out of food."
Merita does the shopping for her and husband Joe and their23-year-old son who lives at home. But Joe said she's not the onlyone to blame.
"We may go to get milk and before you know it you've got eggsand then fruit and vegetables and you're getting a bag of this anda bag of that. And before you know it you've got a $60, $70 bill,"said Joe.
And that brings us back to Amy at the grocery store.
"Not too damaging this week," said Amy.
"You saved $11 just by being a member of their club. Theirlittle card club," said Peter.
Her usual $100 grocery bill was just under $60.
Amy said, "Well, my husband will be happy this week."
Now, having Peter and a TV camera looking over Amy's shouldermay have helped her focus. She was aware of her spending, stuck toher list, and looked for store brands and sale items. This week,Amy and family have an extra $40 that they can save or put towardsanother bill.
In addition, Peter says it is ok to splurge occasionally. But hesays splurge on one item, not 10. If you're going out for a fancydinner, then don't spend extra on groceries. If you splurge ongroceries, don't spend hundreds on a meal out.
Click here to join the Money Watch 8 Challengeany time.
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