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What Is a Total Money Makeover + $50.00 A Week Grocery Challenge

January 11, 2010
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Last Saturday I started my $50.00 a week grocery challenge. The challenge is inspired partly by Dave Ramsey, who I’ve mentioned on here once or twice before because I love him, and partly by my mom. In 2009, I started Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, which has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself even if I still have a looong way to go. In a nutshell, the Total Money Makeover is a step by step guide to getting out of debt and getting control of your money. I talk about it a lot because I love it. The Total Money Makeover has totally changed my life, and I’m not even past step 1.

So here’s the quick version of my TMM to this point: I started my TMM in October  2008. After completing step 1 (building a small emergency fund savings account by selling off my possessions like a madwoman + year end bonus + tax returns) in like January or February 2009 and starting on step 2 (paying down debt from smallest to largest), I hit a brick wall of an emergency that swallowed up everything in my little emergency savings account (don’t even ask!) and slid right back to the prison that is credit card spending without passing go, without collecting $200.00. It was ugly.

So long story short, I could’ve said 2009 was a bust. And I did my fair share of feeling hopeless for a hot minute. But since the few months that I actually was on the Total Money Makeover were the best financial months of my life, I refuse to be swayed that easily. As Dave always says, Murphy and his Law love to show up when you start claiming control of your money. Well Murphy, this girl’s been through Lyme, so you’ll have to come a little harder than that. :)

My fave part about the TMM is that every month is a new chance to start over. So with the beginning of a new year (and a new month), I’m back on the TMM wagon and I intend to do the best I can to stay on it until the end of the ride. Hence the $50.00 a month grocery challenge!

$50.00 A WEEK GROCERY CHALLENGE

While I was in Cinci for Christmas, my mom and I were talking about buying healthy groceries on a budget. Sometimes eating organic, local, hormone free, antibiotic free, what-have-you can seem expennnnnnnsive. So I set a new challenge for myself for the new year – $50.00 a week in food funds. That includes groceries + eating out + quick snacks at the bodega. Since I’m doing it TMM style, I’ll be carrying $50.00 cash in an envelope marked “This Week’s Groceries”. I’ll track each grocery trip with a quick note on the envelope (Jan 10 Trader Joe’s $17.50 or something) and keep the receipt in the envelope. Once that $$’s gone, my grocery trips for the week are finito.

Here are the rules I’m working with:

  • $50.00 a week grocery budget in cash, set apart in its own envelope
  • The week will run from Saturday – Saturday
  • Stick to organic, hormone free, antibiotic free wherever possible
  • The budget also includes feeding the cats
  • If I’m dumb enough to go over my $50.00 weekly budget, that amount comes out of next week’s budget
  • If I eat out, that comes out of this week’s budget! Aka… I better not eat out on my own dime!
  • Things that are already in the pantry/fridge/freezer are fair game – added value!

Since the sis and I share meal times (and therefore groceries), she’s throwing in her $50.00 a week to the challenge too. Which means we’ll spend a combined $100.00 a week and our meals will be intended to feed 2 people. I’m a busy girl, so each dinner will also make enough for two lunches the next day, making things easier.

Here’s the first grocery list for one week’s worth of meals for two people and two hungry cats.

Week 1 Grocery List

This week’s grocery list is even bigger than normal because Steph and I are restocking most of our pantry staples (salt, canola oil, almond butter, butter) after the holidays.

Reminder: This is for two people, each of us only spending $50.00 a week total on food. So our combined budget is $100.00 a week for 3 meals and 2 snacks each a day.

Trader Joe’s

Chicken Breasts – $7.34
Kosher Ground Turkey – $3.49 x 2 = $6.98
1 package Turkey Bacon (8 slices) – $2.99
1 dozen Brown Extra Large Omega 3 eggs – $2.79
Canola Oil – $3.49
Raw Sunflower Seeds 16 oz – $1.49
Slivered Almonds 8 oz – $2.49
Organic Tomato Basil Spaghetti Sauce – $2.29
1 package Green Onions – $1.19
1 package Organic Green Peppers (2 pack) – $2.99
1 giant bag of Southern Greens (Collard, Turnip, and Mustard Greens) – $3.49
Organic Hearts of Romaine – $2.79
1 bag snow peas 12 oz – $2.49 x 2 = $5.98
1 bag of 7 organic grapefruit – $2.03
1 box gluten free mac n’ cheese – $1.99
Brown Rice Tortillas (6) – $2.49
5 lb bag Russet Potatoes – $3.99
Roasted Garlic Hummus 8 oz – $1.79
Raw Creamy Almond Butter 16 oz – $4.99
Sea Salt 26.5 oz – $1.49
unsweetened cocoa powder 9 oz – $1.99
Bench & Field Holistic Natural Feline Formula dry cat food 3 lbs – $6.49

Trader Joe’s total: $73.55

Whole Foods

Whole 365 Plain Fat Free Yogurt 32 oz – $2.99 x 2 = $5.98

Natural Frontier Market

Butter Lettuce – $2.99
Almond Breeze Almond Milk – $1.99

Natural Frontier Total: $4.98

Food Coop

4 organic Avocados – $3.16
1 lb Yellow Split Peas (bulk aisle) – $1.49
Earth Balance butter substitute (Soy Free) – $3.49
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave Nectar 23.5 oz – $4.99

Food Coop Total: $13.13

Grand Total: $97.64

Looks like we came in $2.36 under budget this week, which works for me!

What We Already Had

Old Wessex Organic Oat Bran 18.5 oz
1/2 package Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa (13 oz leftover)
1 package Trader Joe’s brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 bag cranberries
1 can Trader Joe’s green chiles
1/2 bottle olive oil
1 box Whole 365 Chicken Broth (originally $1.99)
lime juice


Here’s hoping for a healthy and delicious budgeting experience!

More about the Total Money Makeover

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TMM Tools (get the 7 steps and budget forms to get started!)

The Seven TMM Baby Steps

Buy the Book (one of my fave Christmas gifts to give, hands down)

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