Join the Once a Month Shopping Challenge

The Organic Prepper

What would happen if you only went shopping once a month?

Would you become more organized? Would you become more creative? Would you become more mindful of waste? Would you save a ton of money?

That’s what I want to find out with the Once a Month Shopping Challenge. 

For the next 6 months, my family and I are doing one shopping trip per month of each type. So, the feed store, the grocery store, and a trip for general merchandise. (Since Christmas falls in here, we’ll make an exception by adding a couple of shopping outings for the holidays.)

Here are the benefits of once-a-month shopping:

The financial benefits

As prices go up, it’s easy to spend a little here and spend a little there until you are shocked to discover that you have nothing left.  The easiest way to prevent that might be to stay away from temptation.  Going to do your shopping only one time in a month will help you stay away from those impulse purchases that always seem to hop into the cart. It will be easier to keep track of your spending if it’s all in one large trip. After we moved, we got into the habit of “just stopping to get one thing” several times per week.  This has added up, and our grocery bill is absolutely out of control.

When you set yourself a monthly budget, it can be difficult to keep track if you run to the store all the time. But when you shop once a month, you can withdraw the cash you need to purchase your items and stay within your budget more easily. This will also encourage you to dip into your stockpiles for those additional items that you might need to get through the month.

The organizational benefits

If you know you only have one shot at getting all of your supplies for the month, you’re going to be far more organized about that shopping trip. You’ll be forced to calculate your needs in advance so that you can get everything you’ll require. You’ll need to consider things like special events that are coming up during the month (are you celebrating any birthdays or holidays?), guests that may be arriving, and outings for the kids that might require snacks or certain supplies.

During the month, you can keep a list as you discover things you’d normally “run to the store” to pick up. This list can be fulfilled during the next monthly shopping trip, at which time you may discover you that you already found a satisfactory substitute for the missing product.

The creative benefits

When you shop only on a monthly basis you’ll find that there are many ways to skin a theoretical cat. If you run out of an item during the month, it’s time to put on your problem-solving hat and come up with a replacement that doesn’t come from the store. Maybe you can repurpose something you already have. Maybe you can create the item out of supplies you have on hand. Maybe you can find it at a yard sale, borrow it from a friend, barter for it, or simply live without it.  Whatever way you find around the missing item, it’s sure to get your wheels turning.

The preparedness benefits

If you’re a prepper, now’s the time for you to really put a few things to the test. There’s nothing like once-a-month shopping to put the amount of supplies you need to survive in perspective. This will also help you to see the holes in your preps when you discover that you only had enough of some vital element to last for 3 weeks instead of the infinite stockpile you thought you had. Learning to live without running to the store is much akin to a lockdown due to bad weather or civil unrest.

The “rules”

You can change these around to fit your family’s needs, of course, but following you can find our family’s guidelines to the Once-a-Month Shopping Challenge.

We are allowed one trip for each of our needs: groceries, animal supplies, and other supplies. These may all be undertaken on the same day, or they can be split up based on the way your family gets paid.

Supplies that can be obtained outside of regular retail environments are exempt. For example, if you barter with a neighbor, purchase some craft supplies at a yard sale, or go get a bushel of apples directly from a local farmer, these things don’t count as “going to the store.”  This is a way you can make up for a shortfall in your supplies while still abiding by the “no stores” rule. However, ordering a new item from Amazon or another online retailer would be considered cheating.

We’re allowing two meals out per month. This might be Chinese takeout, pizza delivery, or a restaurant meal.  A meal out can break up the monotony and help you stick to your no-stores challenge. Based on your budget and your family’s habits, decide if, and how many, meals you’ll have out.

Don’t hesitate to break the rules if it’s a matter of health or safety. Obviously, I don’t want to see your dog starve for a week because you underestimated the amount of dog food that you required for the month. Nor would I want someone to go without safety goggles at a new job until the end of the month. Adhere to the no stores rule only if it makes sense.

Who’s with me?

I’ll be inviting some of my blogger friends to participate in this and will post links to their stories about the challenge, so be looking for it!

Who is with me on this challenge? I’d love to hear your plans to limit your outings to the stores. What exemptions will be necessary for your situation? It’s a lot more fun to embark on a challenge like this when others join in! Let me know in the comments if you’re going to participate!

2 thoughts on “Join the Once a Month Shopping Challenge

  1. I’m in! Putting pencil to paper for a shopping list is going to be scary, but an excellent tool for the future. I think I will save all kinds of money with this challenge. I am going to modify it a little… I am thinking for the first month I will get two “emergency” passes for my miscalculations that will happen. We don’t typically eat out at all, so a store trip for a special meal two times? And I will need one trip for 2 gallons of milk at week three. I look forward to see what we can do!

  2. I have been living on a limited income for 6 years and have learned to shop once a month for everything to keep myself in budget. It does take more planning and creativity to keep things interesting but it is definitely worth it. I am happy to hear others are trying it now.

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