Reprint of article as it appeared in the "Simple Times" Newsletter of August 1, 2000

Submitted by David MacClement

I've got an easy way to budget; a special use of the shopping list.

Near the beginning of the 1990's, I spent an inordinate amount of time on our spreadsheet, tracking absolutely everything we spent. See the front page article in our local paper about me at:

However, within the next few months, partly by accident, we changed to our current extremely easy system, and have cut our weekly shopping down to about $80 for our family of four adults (two in their twenties).

This EZ-Budget System is:

1) Only go shopping once a week;

2) Have two cupboards full of all regularly used pantry and personal items -- a "stock" cupboard and a "current" cupboard;

3) Have a shopping list in an easily accessible place;

4) Everyone writes down what's needed on the shopping list as an item is moved from the "stock" cupboard to the "current" cupboard, or when you're getting near the end of long-lasting items like shampoo;

5) Nothing, and I mean nothing, is bought except what's on the list. This makes it frugal -- it means that someone actually decides it's needed before it's put on the list and bought. Of course, if someone wants to buy their own stuff using their own money, that's up to them.

I find everyone here is pleased with the system; for one thing, all the essentials are always here -- we never run out. But very little is spent; we're all in favor of living frugally, even our twenty-six-year-old son and twenty-three-year-old daughter still living at home (when she's not visiting her boyfriend in Switzerland -- using the money she earns teaching English to Mandarin/Chinese speakers).

It surprises me how much gadding-about-the-globe you can do if you're extremely frugal at home. She spent most of a year in Beijing on her own when she was twenty-one; paid-for in a similar way, but via a loan from us oldies who have already done our visiting-strange-places.

Submitted by David MacClement

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Simple Living and Learning at HOME