How Grocery Shopping With $25 Changed My Narrative On Finances

Last Updated: November 24, 2023By 4.7 min readCategories: Personal Musings

There isn’t a whole lot that brings me down quite like thinking about my failures in the past. I easily slide into self-pity and hatred when I recount the ways that I’ve missed the mark while looking around me and eyeing the success of my peers. Keeping my failures in the review mirror has made it debilitating at times to move forward, to set goals, and to achieve success. I don’t think I deserve it and when I’m rewarded with it, I often don’t know what to do with it. I’m caught in an endless cycle of feeling I’m not good enough which perpetuates the idea that at my core something is very wrong with me indeed.

That’s the narrative which I swirled around my head for years. I get bouts of feeling just fine, even dandy, but the crushing weight of fears, debt, and my past easily tip me right back into the negative self-talk and joylessness. That’s a Truth which froze me in place, debilitating me at times so that I literally felt glued in place. I’ve stayed long than I should. I’ve accepted way too little. I’ve spent way too much. I’ve lied. I’ve hid. I’ve done damage. These are all things I have done in the past, but they have literally zero bearing on my present and they certainly do not determine my future.

Let me say that again: these are all things I have done in the past, but they have literally zero bearing on my present and they certainly do not determine my future.

Do you know what determines my future?

My faith.

My plan.

My acceptance.

My forgiveness.

My joy!

My worthiness.

Me.

I realized a vital thing last week and that thing was this: I am the only one holding me back. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish: being debt free, not having frequent nightmares, a life with my partner, more paid writing gigs, and a successful blog. But, just like I put at the bottom of my blog, so that I am and you are reminded each time you scroll: my success does not determine my worth. I get to also define my success.

What are three successes I have right now?

I stuck to a grocery budget last week–I bought 5 days worth of meals for $24 (yup, even saved a $1).

I decided that with my next paycheck I was going to pay, in full, two smaller debts.

I came up with a plan for where my money will go each month.

My story around money and my worth has vastly shifted and because of that shift I come from a place of faith rather than fear. I believe my God provides. I believe that just because I haven’t accomplished certain financial milestones in the past doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish them right now. Hello savings account!

When we shift the way we think about things, when our actions match up to our goals, we are able to accomplish things we might have thought are only dream goals for, “when.”

When I win the lottery.

When I get a raise at work. When my payment plan is up.

When we take feasible actions, we move our “one day when’s” into the “today,” “tomorrow,” or “next pay day.” We don’t live in a future which may not happen the way we think it might. How do we know what might be feasible for a payment plan in six months to a year? How do we know that there isn’t a way to make passive income? How do we know that that old friend or old boss may not have one more project?

Take small steps to pay down big debts and then shift the HOW. You fell into debt because you thought you needed something that made you happy for a few days before realizing that there was a better deal or you didn’t have the knowledge or research that a better deal even existed. You fell into debt because you paid down your credit card, but then rewarded yourself with a shopping spree. You stayed in debt because it seemed too big and you started believing the never’s.

I’ll never get out from under.

When I spent $25 at the grocery store I was not only proud of myself, but I realized that my typical monthly grocery budget could be sliced in more than half meaning that money could go towards my savings and my debt and I could still get what I needed from the store–heck my appreciation for that bag of groceries was 10x my appreciation if I had spent double or triple that amount.

We live in a “bigger is better” environment and we continue to fuel this idea every time we reach for more.

We want to work more.

We want a bigger home.

We want the next best phone, car, even person!

Ya’ll the grass isn’t green on the other side, so when will we slow down enough to realize that?

I had an aha moment at the grocery store. Maybe your’s comes in the form of a conversation with someone you trust, in the Bible, or writing down what you want and then writing down the steps to make your wants into realities.

We are only as far away from our dreams as the boundaries that we put on our realities. Which is to say, dream big and get out of your own way!

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2 Comments

  1. Jen G. October 9, 2023 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Haley, I’m loving this post and am curious to know what you were able to buy for $24 — please share. I am also working on making changes now vs. waiting for “someday”

    • Haley Kamilla October 9, 2023 at 11:59 am

      Thank you, Jen! I did this so long ago I don’t remember, but I do know that Trader Joes always felt so easy to shop in. I would suggest making a meal plan for this list and then seeing how many meals you can “share” ingredients in–it may turn out you only have to buy a few extra things to create several meals for the week. Thank you for reading.

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