After the panic halfway through 2018 because our spending seemed out of control we changed our shopping habits with a plan to get things back on track and frugal. We continue to purchase consciously, rather than conspicuously, only buy what we need and use the think-about-it-for-a-month method for expensive purchases or for something new. We also continue to make do, wearing clothing until it is only fit for scraps and fixing things rather than replacing them.
Given that we are not prepared to give up our holidays, one of our bigger budget lines is food and grocery shopping. This represented 14% of our spending in 2018. We decided we would target this area of our budget and make some changes. The main alteration we made last summer was to switch pretty much all of our shopping while we are in the UK to Aldi, the German discount supermarket, rather than a combination of Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons.
Since last summer we were away during September and October but it is now four months since we returned from this trip to mainland Europe and I have been able to review what we have spent in supermarkets during that period [which includes Christmas].
The savings are clear. We have saved an average of around £50 a month [£600 a year is not an insignificant amount in our budget] As we all know, in terms of staying frugal shopping in Aldi is a win-win. This has certainly helped with our budget and although it is really too early to say, at the moment this year’s spending is on track [there I did say it].
I am less happy with the amount of plastic packaging we come home with from Aldi and this was the main reason we hadn’t shopped in Aldi previously. I do try and buy as much plastic-free fresh fruit and vegetables as I can from the store but this seriously limits our diet. Baking potatoes, spring onions, aubergines, peppers and celeriac are all favourites that are plastic-free. Fantastic, there are good things here that make great meals. But we also like to include carrots, tomatoes, onions, courgettes and mushrooms in our diet and these generally come wrapped in plastic, whereas in other supermarkets I could find them loose.
Being frugal and taking care of our planet are both important in my life and at the moment it feels challenging to balance these two principles. I have been an environmental campaigner for most of my adult life and this is very much a part of who I am. Travelling in our campervan is also something that is close to my heart. Spending more than our budget [the amount of savings we have are pretty much fixed] isn’t really optional. The only way we can live the life we want to is by keeping our spending in control.
If we squander all our savings before our pensions kick in we will have to go back to work! Not the end of the world I know [and don’t get me wrong I am not complaining and I know how privileged we are] … and yet I do wonder who would want to employ either of us in our mid-60s? And so our shopping continues to compromise our environmental credibility until Aldi start to reduce their packaging. Hopefully that is only a matter of time.