Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Budgeting and Food Storage

Budget. It is a word that conjures images of torture and panics some, I'm not really sure why. The budget itself shouldn't cause panic. (Unless, of course, you simply don't wish to stop spending yourself into debt.) A budget is simply a tool, and not all that difficult to establish. 

Check Out Dave's Advice on Budgets
and Money
I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I went through Financial Peace University a couple of years ago, and most of the time, I no longer panic when emergencies arise. He espouses zero debt living, and then investing. I am whole-heartedly all about zero debt. The goal is to pay off all debts, and not incur more. You cut any unnecessary spending, request a raise, obtain a second part-time job. Any way you can, you throw money at your debt until it's gone. Dave Ramsey is so excited in his programs, it's contagious!!

Anyway, it's been a couple of years now. How am I doing, you say? Well, I'm not exactly the most disciplined individual when it comes to budgeting. (Sheepish grin) So I've run into some bumps and bruises along the way. Most of the time it happens when my emergency expenses exceed the sum total of my emergency funds, and then I'm stuck playing catch-up. However, I'm now doing it with slightly less bills. Also, given that I'm currently self-employed, my income can change at the drop of a hat. It's currently down; I've lost almost $900/month worth of income in the last two weeks. Two months before that I lost $800/month. So that's $1700/month in about two months, of LOST income per month. Am I panicking? No, not yet. Why? Because I've played this game for years. No creditor will come into my house and take my food.

And that's what I've got. With the exception of milk and fresh veggies/fruits, and eggs, I have a one to one and one-half month dried and canned goods food supply in my basement, and 3 weeks worth of meat and meals for the kids in the freezer. That's something Dave does not talk about. If something happens, and you have food to eat, you are far less likely to panic. It buys you some time. You can pay bills or fill up the gas tank (only the necessary ones, now), instead of having to wonder where your next meal will come from. There is a sense of security that comes from that, an insurance in tangible goods that are immediately accessible. I wish I had more down there, but I'm working on it.

I would urge everyone to stock and use their own personal pantry. Build it up to last 6 months to a year. It comes in handy, and doesn't require a doomsday scenario. I have some recommendations:
Food Storage and Budgeting
Go Hand-In-Hand
  • Learn to cook. Then, use the items in your pantry.
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Canned fruits and veggies (yours, or purchased ones)
  • Dried fruits
  • Canned meats such as tuna and chicken. I usually find that canned beef is simply not worth the price, and we don't eat a lot of red meat as it's not economical. I would like to, but I have to be realistic.
  • Macaroni and cheese. If you find yourself out of a job, or in any other type of scenario, this kids' favorite really comes in handy!
  • Pasta
  • Ramen. I know, horrid nutritional value. But it fills a belly, makes a good cheap snack, and can always be fortified with canned meat and peas. (Or however you like it.) And you don't have to use the seasoning packets.
  • Canned soups
  • Condiments - ketchup, syrup, jelly. I save anything I get that I don't use - ketchup packets from McD's, not that we frequent fast food places, those cream and sugar kits from hotel rooms when I go on vacation. I have my own canned preserves, and they are by far better than anything I can purchase in a store. They are also really good on shortbread cookies. :)
  • And don't forget dessert. Add a few bags of marshmallows, a little chocolate, and now's a great time to stock up on Girl Scout cookies!! Also, individually wrapped hard candies tend to store for a while. My son's favorite are DumDums, for some reason, and they seem to keep forever. It's a good pick-me-up when you aren't able to buy them from the store.
For Some of the Best Money-Saving
Remember to rotate the items in your pantry so they don't sit down there for ten years and lose taste and nutritional value - or spoil. Spoiled foods attract rodents and bugs, and nobody wants that. I have in my stores foods we eat and things we use on a regular basis. I don't store turnips and potatoes because we don't eat them. Just ask yourself, what do you eat regularly. Can you store it?

If you want to know more about the why's and how's of a food pantry, I recommend "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyzyn. She gives valuable advice, in addition to many other great money-saving tips that our grandparents used to live by. 

So back to budgeting. Budget in your food storage. Set aside an extra $50 or $100/month to go towards establishing a food supply for your family, until you've built it up. A lot of you already have budgets established, but if you don't, at least give consideration to building up a food supply. It's saved my butt several times now, and I wouldn't go back to getting food week-to-week for anything.

And check out Dave. I used to think I knew how to budget, then I listened to him. 

Thanks for reading!

P.S. I get a little long-winded sometimes, thank you for your patience. Book reviews coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. We have a pantry and try to keep it stocked with can goods. I do a large meat buy in the Spring and use a freezer to keep things fresh for the year. I hope to harvest a few lambs this year for personal meat consumption. Great post.