You could go out, get another part-time job and make more money. Chances are you’ll make minimum wage, it will be taxed and you’ll spend even more on eating out if you do.
Most of the deposits we made to our Money Game fund came from watching how much we spend. We didn’t cut our lifestyle. We took two vacations. We both got a raise in our personal spending money and clothing money. We also increased our grocery budget.
But we stopped wasting food. We started planning meals. I started cleaning the fridge daily to make sure we used food we actually stored. We started a garden and grew a lot of our own food last summer. We enjoyed our first tomato/cucumber salad last night that came straight from the garden.
I’ll try to make time to do a year’s end post itemizing where the deposits came from. But I’m guessing about $10,000 came just from coming under on different budget categories and depositing it in our MG account. Before, I was sloppy with the food budget and made it up from the other budget accounts. We would spentd less on fuel so I’d move it to food. The electric bill would be less than what we budgeted and so on.
It takes me about 5 minutes or less to go through the fridge and grab the leftovers for lunch. At the same time, I note what fresh produce we have so I make sure to cook those vegetables for dinner that night.
It takes another 30 minutes tops to plan a week’s worth of menus and make a shopping list. It uusally takes a lot less than that because every time I come up with a menu I save it to my “menus.txt” file. I have over 40 now and all I have to do is scan the list to see what looks good for the time of the year and what we’re doing that week. If we’re in the mood to look for new ideas and recipes, that’s always an option.
My cooking time is less now too. All the planning means I know what meals make great leftovers. When I’m cooking something that tastes even better the next day, I double or triple the recipe. I’ve learned to label all leftovers and meals for the freezer with the name and date. Now I only cook a main meal every other day or so.
Since I’ve gotten the food budget under control, I know I’m spending less total time than before. I rarely find moldy food in the fridge. I’m not having to run to the grocery store for forgotten items.
Here’s the breakdown of what I do now:
meal planning – 1/2 hour a week
Daily fridge cleaning – 1/2 a week (5 minutes a day or less)
Grocery shopping – 2 hours a week (20 minutes drive each way, 1 hour in the store and 20 minutes to put everything away)
I probably cook less than I used to but I’m not going to deduct that time.
So 3 hours a week has netted us thousands of tax-free dollars that have gone right back into our Money Game account. We’re over $16,000 with still a few weeks left to go for our first year of playing.
We didn’t have any of these savings before I made sure we quit wasting food. Let’s say you start paying attention and as a result, you start spending $50 a week less on food. We didn’t even eat out and I know we saved at least that much. That’s more than I could make at a minimum wage job for 3 hours of my time and it isn’t taxed. I also don’t have to drive to that job so I don’t lose the travel time, pay for gas, etc.
Minimum-wage.org reports that the minimum wage in Georgia is the same as the federal minimum wage and it’s currently $7.25 an hour. 3 hours would be $21.75 but again it will be taxed. Your take-home will be less.
If your food budget is leaking dollars, this is absolutely the place to start. If you eat out a lot, you have even more opportunity for savings.
I’m not against earning more money. But it doesn’t make sense if it all gets wasted.
Consider seeing this as your side hustle. It could pay off in a big way (and keep paying after you get it working for you and can take on another paying job too).
Continuing with savings from selling the second car, I’m not going to need the $21 sitting in the category for car tags. It’s getting moved to the MG as a power up!
Level Completed: 165 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,820.48
Total Balance: $16,167.54
Our Money Game fund has increased 12.7% so far this month.
$291.09 is needed to reach the next level