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Monday Q&A | What’s up with Aldi? plus, a Monthly Money Document Template (sort of)

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

I was wondering if you could maybe give some more details on Aldi. I’ve seen one or two in our area but never went in one. What kind of products do they sell? Are that out of date? I mentioned something about going to one and my son gave me grief and said the food there wasn’t good. What exactly is the story with Aldi stores?


I’m so glad you asked this! With all due respect, I think your son is wrong. 😉 Aldi stores keep their prices low not by selling out-of-date products or inferior products but rather by keeping their operating costs low.

For instance, their stores have a small footprint, which reduces their rent and their utility bills. They carry private label products, they carry only products that sell consistently, and they incorporate all sorts of efficient tricks (like putting bar codes all over their packaging to help cashiers scan faster) so that they don’t have to hire a lot of employees for each store.

Aldi has a GREAT money back guarantee on their products, so if you buy something and you don’t like it, you can take it back to the store, get your money back, AND get a replacement product. It’s a risk-free shopping experience.

Check out some of the delicious food I’ve made using Aldi ingredients.

And this post is full of pictures of the great produce I get at Aldi.

I’ve been shopping at Aldi for years now, and I’ve been enthusiastically blogging about them for just about as long. You can browse through the Aldi category to see all of those posts, and I think those will help to answer any questions you still have.

I love the idea of creating a Finance Report every payday for us to review. Is there any way that a blank version of yours could be posted or shared? I would be happy to pay you for it as well…I just need to get something I can use easily so I can get started and I am not savvy enough to create one on my own.


Ohh, it’s really not all that special or complicated and it is most certainly not worth paying for (!), but it gets the job done.

(For those of you wondering what we’re talking about, each month, I make a money document to share with Mr. FG. You can read all about it right here.)

Basically, it’s a plain Word document that’s divided into three sections.

At the top, I list income and then take out the tithe, so we’re left with the net spendable for the month.

Next, I list our expenses for that month and our regularly withdrawn savings (for things like our vacation account, our Christmas account, our car repair account, etc.). So, that section has the total amount of money that will exit our account that month.

Then I subtract the exiting money from the incoming money and then I know exactly how much will be left over at the end of the month. Depending on the month, that amount varies, and each month Mr. FG and I discuss what we’ll do with that money. I often type up a few options in the money document itself so that we’ve got some choices to talk about.

At the bottom, I give a snapshot view of our savings accounts. I think that’s my favorite part…updating those numbers each month!

So, basically it goes like this:

Section one

Income-tithe= net spendable income.

Section two

Expenses + automatic savings deposits = net expenditures for the month.

Section three

Subtract expenses from income; list ideas for where to put any extra money.

Section four

Snapshot of savings accounts

I don’t know that my bare bones Word document method is what will work for every couple, but I think the exact method isn’t terribly important. What IS important is regularly communicating about money, and doing it in writing(followed up with a chat) each payday has been revolutionary for us.

If you’re having trouble communicating with your other half about money, I highly recommend giving this a try!


Joshua’s 365 post: Caturday

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Monday 4th of March 2013

I do something similar each month, except I use an excel document. I have one column for each week (since my husband and I get paid alternating weeks). At the top, I put the previous week's ending balance, then I add in the paycheck for the week and subtract our expenses, donations and savings. Each month I just copy the spreadsheet and create a tab for the next month. I then link the beginning balance to the ending balance from the previous spreadsheet. It takes me a few minutes each month to update but it really helps keep us on track.


Monday 25th of February 2013

Thanks so much for posting this answer to my question!!! I was thrilled to see it and show it to my husband. We have finally taken the steps to create a cash based system for our non-bill expenses (groceries, personal items, and household; gifts; babysitting; clothing; personal allowances). It's just been a few weeks, but it is drastically decreasing the amount of spending to keep track of, since the cash in the envelope is what's left for the month...not to mention really curbing our spending in general! I am now working on creating a document with the information you include in your report, in addition to an update on our debt payoff plan. I am hoping this will increase our communication about money and help us get on the same page so we can reach some of our goals!


Monday 25th of February 2013

My husband and I are completely enamoured with Aldi. We have shopped there for over a year now and save on average about $40-50 a trip! We were always buying generic brands at the supermarket, so it made sense to just go to this lovely, well-maintained, SMALL store to do our primary shopping. Aldi's philosophy on their site suggests that you'd satisfy about 85-90% of your shopping needs there, which is about right. There are certain items that we haven't found there (like our favorite type of veggie burger, buttermilk), BUT we do regularly buy the majority of our list there, including great produce (like someone else said, just with any other place, sometimes it's fab, other times not-so-much), meats, and specialty items like almond milk, and their always changing "special buys" - these are like treasures, that we eagerly await each week. We have cut out eating at restaurants more - because if we're feeling like a pizza night, we pick up one of their freshly-made pizzas, or equally delicious frozen variations, of which there are many - for a fraction of the price you'd pay out....or last week I had an asian-inspired stir-fry along with an array of delicious appetizers, with their special dipping sauces. I'm more inspired with my cooking, and feel more liberty to pick up more produce and fresh foods BECAUSE I'm saving so much money. I'll stop there....I obviously can't say enough about how much Aldi has changed our lives. If you haven't checked it out - go and enjoy!


Tuesday 19th of February 2013

Not all Aldi's are great. We have two in the metro area, and both are in rough parts of town. I went a few times and left empty handed every time. The produce was always poor quality, as in bruised and overripe or wilted. The rest of the store seemed to be filled with boxed and canned items. So, I understand why Aldi's might have a bad reputation. My favorite store is Fareway (Iowa). It has a similar concept - small store & limited options, and I love it! We cook simple meals and don't even need all the fancy ingredients. The store owners are invested in their location, for instance last year they carried the most delicious peaches I've had in years. I asked where they were from and he said he special orders them from a certain orchard in Missouri. It's the small things like that make a huge difference. One other perk that I've appreciated is they bag & walk your groceries to your car. Only after I had a baby do I truely appreciate this service! In summary - small grocery stores are the best. :)

Maria G.

Tuesday 19th of February 2013

I agree with the post about Aldi because I have tried shopping there already. I don't think the products they sell are out of date and inferior. Once you shop there I doubt you would ever use the words "out-of-date" and "inferior". As for their tricks and strategies, I didn't know it was that practical and now that I knew about it through this post, I liked Aldi even more. Since the store uses very practical strategies, I consider it the most practical place to shop.

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