Good-quality food is a non-negotiable for anyone mindful of their health and wellbeing. Nourishing your body is a form of insurance, increasing the chances of living a healthy life and continuing to generate an income, as well as potentially minimising medical bills in the future.
Nutritious food, however, comes at a cost. Studies have shown that Kiwis fritter away 15 per cent of their net income with food being a huge area of 'overspend' for many. Overspending and inefficiencies create a big drag on your personal finances and slow down the realisation of goals and dreams, such as paying down debt or saving for a renovation or trip.
Enjoying your life and incorporating your non-negotiables, such as good food, is the cornerstone of any financial plan's sustainability but you must be smart to make it work for you. To be in control of your finances, you need to find those areas in which you fritter away money and put it to better use.
As a baseline for our clients, we use an average food and grocery spend of $80-$100 per adult and $60 per child (plus nappies) per week. Work out the number that's right for you and stick to it.
Tips to make it work
- Make a detailed shopping list, plan your meals for the week and check your cupboards before going to the supermarket. You'll spend less and it will save you the mental fatigue of figuring out what to cook each night.
- Set a budget and stick to it. How much do you want to spend on groceries, work lunches, cinema trips and coffees? Plan it out. It feels good to be in control!
- Use cash. You'll know exactly where you are and how much you have left and it places a natural limit on how much you have to spend.
- Try to reduce your food waste. Use leftovers for lunch or turn them into something tasty and different, such as a stir-fry or soup. Commit to using all the vegetables and fruit you bought and store them properly.
- Reduce the amount you spend on eating out. It's easy to make lunch using food from dinner the night before. When you are serving up, put out a food container and place an extra portion into it. It's no more work to toss in an extra piece of chicken or some vegetables to bulk up your meal.
- For many of my clients, a planned meal service like My Food Bag can ensure you are eating good-quality food at a fixed price and minimise your spend on eating out or takeaways.
- Plant a vege patch. Bought herbs and lettuces can be costly and go off quickly. A few key herbs and some greens won't take up much space in your garden or can be grown in containers on a deck.
Your finances are intrinsically linked to your self-esteem, self-worth and general wellbeing. We owe it to ourselves (and our loved ones) to do everything we can to live a happy life now and keep on track with our longer-term goals.
It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, it's what we do consistently that counts in the long run. Making little changes often will get you big results.
Words Kate Wesney