Man what a month it has been! I travelled a total of 14 days during June and we moved in-between all that craziness! The beau was gone just as much which means a) we still aren’t completely unpacked and b) we weren’t really doing anything resembling normal grocery shopping. Since there was only one week when we were here for all of it, we did minimal meal planning and couponing. It just wasn’t a priority this month. However, I am super happy to report that despite all of this, we were under budget every single week. Including splurges. #win Just please don’t look at my discretionary spending fund… *whistles*
Anyway, this week there isn’t anything particularly special about our spending. In addition to the most perfect loaf of bread we picked up in the city, we went to Trader’s on our trip home, bought a handful of things that tickled our fancy (with the plan to go to the store again later in the week) and that was that. Threw together a greens-grains-beans bowl last night (kale, Bulgar, and chickpeas) and voila!
Instead, this week its a special Money Saving Monday. A little over a month ago, Emily Levenson, the fab gal behind Project: Food Budget, contacted me to see if I would review her new e-book, Eat More, Spend Less. Of course I said yes immediately. I truly loved doing P:FB, both for the challenge and the community. I learned so much about couponing, self-discipline, meal-planning, my spending habits and motivations, and just being a savvy shopper. These are the pieces I did my best to weave throughout my P:FB narrative, to inspire you and record my journey. Therefore, I knew that Emily’s e-book would be a summary of all of that. And in this case, I was right.
Eat More, Spend Less: Mastering the Art of Food Budgeting
By: Emily Levenson, MSW,CHHC
Eat More, Spend Less (EMSL) is the perfect beginner’s guide to food budgeting. Emily writes with both humor and grace, encouraging readers to have fun with this process and also to forgive themselves on weeks that aren’t “perfect.” The guide, however, is also a great reminder for those of us who’ve been budgeting for a while now. Though most of the information was not new to me, it was still good to see so many of hte lessons I’ve learned compiled into one quick read.
At 29 pages, EMSL is concise and straightforward, all the while providing a plethora of important details and tools. It is this very mix that makes the book so awesome. Emily doesn’t just provide instructions on how to, say, set your budget or meal plan, she provides worksheets and examples that guide you through the process. On ever page I felt like Emily was a spending-savvy girlfriend, guiding me through the maze of food budgeting with patience and without judgment.
The book itself is divided into six parts:
- Setting the Stage provides info on why budgeting is important and how it changed Emily’s life.
- Setting a Budget takes you through the steps to choosing a realistic budget you can (mostly) stick to.
- Budgeting Tools are the nitty gritty of the book and include tips and tricks for staying on-budget.
- Budget-Friendly Meals offers guidance on stocking your pantry and a lot more detail on meal planning.
- Resources include websites and books that will make this process more automatic and simple.
- Appendix has all your worksheets (tracking your budget, weekly meal plan, etc).
Rather than just give you this information, Emily really narrates a story, one that is directed right at the reader (hence that whole “it feels like I’m hanging with my bestie” vibe). She doesn’t just write about the benefits of food budgeting, but shares her personal experiences and challenges with it. The book really goes beyond the basic and heavily discussed ideas about the topic and delves into some reasons that you might not immediately think of. For example, Emily writes that food budgeting can help build your self-esteem. Though this wasn’t something I was actively aware of in my own adventures, once I read it I realized that, indeed, setting and rising to a challenge each week was really confidence-boosting! To that end, I also appreciate the Emily does not shy away from the fact that whenever we’re talking about money, a lot of ‘stuff’ can come up – anger, resentment, guilt, etc. This fact is acknowledged and the reader is reminded that this is both normal and ok.
In the same spirit, the ‘Tools’ section begins with all your basic, budgeting 101-esque advice. Meal plan, use a shopping list, buy food in season. But slowly it shifts to more novel ideas like working splurges into your budget and finding an accountability buddy. Though unconventional, these tips are so important and vital for budgeting success. Having my P:FB family was so key for those weeks when I felt I had totally failed or when I just wanted to forget about my budget and go a little cray at the supermarket. Splurging–on things I’d normally make at home (e.g. hummus) or dessert or the brand I really love–also helps budgeting to feel less restrictive. And this, ladies and gents, is the second major theme of the book: budgeting does not have to hurt (too much). Splurges are good if they are planned. Going over is ok as long as your overall trajectory is towards spending less. So on and so forth.
Overall, I’d highly recommend EMSL for anyone who is interested in learning more about food budgeting and/or beginning to budget for themselves. Between it’s ‘girlfriend guide’ tone and guilt-free message, its the perfect book for exploring the world of saving money on what you eat. For those who have been in the budgeting world for a while, it might not offer too much new information. However, as a refresher it is definitely ideal because it reminds readers so well of why they started to budget and what is so awesome about it. Plus its a gentle nudge to go back to those basic tools that work oh-so-well.
Want your own copy? Eat More, Spend Less can be purchased at Emily’s site for only $8.99! #bargain
Thank you to Emily for the chance to review this new book and remember why I love couponing and budgeting. And a special shout-out to my P:FB comrades for all of their continued inspiration and motivation. You all rock!
All views expressed in this post are my own. A copy of EMSL was provided in exchange for writing a review.