Deep Thoughts

Rick Warren (via Twitter): No one can control your emotions without your permission. Who are you allowing to ruin your day?

Monday, January 10

Food Money

We are a cash only family ... this does include using our debit card for some purchases as designed by our budget. Anyway, each month we plan what we will spend for the next month. Although I wouldn't say we are stingy or are completely bare bones with our money when making the spending plan, we do try to keep it to a minimum necessary to get through the month so more money can go into savings and our (new to us) van fund.

We have been having a little bit of extra money in our grocery fund some months and are not expecting to entertain this month, so we cut that category a bit for January to see if we can do with a little less ... at least for this month.

Now when I say grocery fund, it actually refers to anything I buy at Walmart that we use on a regular basis including but not limited to toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, etc. Not all of these things are purchased each month (because I buy the BIG sizes of everything), but they definitely come up regularly and their costs can work out to be a sizable chunk of a weekly total. I also have an extra $10/month allowed for health and beauty, $20/month for dog food, and $10/month for school supplies.

Whether our monthly amount sounds like a lot or a little to others would depend on what you are comparing it to. How many people are you feeding? How old are the people you are feeding? At what store and where in the country you are shopping? How often do you eat at home?

We feed six people none of whom have hit puberty yet and live in a community with (I'm guessing) a standard of living on the low side of average. We cook almost all meals at home; although do allow $50/month for restaurants seperate from our grocery spending. Some months we use all of this restaurant allowance; some not.

As I was contemplating our grocery spending amounts for this month, I did a little math to figure out the amount of money per meal we allowed. It worked out to $1.30/meal/person. We don't often spend this much on a breakfast or lunch meal so that allows for a little bit more for dinners. We do like snacks in our house so some money does goes towards those as well. I try to serve or remake leftovers so food doesn't go to waste--some weeks I do better at this than others.

Although I could do more with coupons or driving around to shop at multiple stores to get better deals, I think I do pretty well with our food money . . . especially considering some of that money ($1.30/meal/person) does cover those other non-food items mentioned above. The total amount we spend on food each month is considerably less than what it would be if we did eat restaurant food more often.

I have read a lot about saving money on food from the planning, purchasing, and cooking sides of things. For the amount of time I am willing to spend on all of those fronts, I am currently doing the best I am willing to do (I think). I would be interested in hearing what other people do though to keep costs down or their thoughts on this.

I plan to post more in the future about our cash only - no debt life style because WE LOVE IT!!!


harkinna said...

I think the point you are making about not wanting to drive around to get the best deals goes to the idea of the value of your time. Our lives are limited not only by the amount of money we have but also, and maybe more importantly, by the amount of time we have. Therefore, when deciding where to use your "time-budget" you have to take into account the value of an hour to you. Let's say you had to pay for child DC that would be 2800 a month for four kids. Let's cut that in half for OK. So 160 hour a month into $1400, every hour you "earn" or "save" about $9.

Knowing this hypothetical number can help you judge whether it is worth it.

Does this make sense?

SAHM said...

Oh, I definitely agree. This summer when I wasn't doing the school pick up/drop off thing for an hour and a half each day, I spent a little more time with the whole coupon thing and some comparison shopping --Walmart will actually match other stores' prices on the same item-- but now the time it takes to do that isn't worth the amount I was saving.

One of the books I read was The Coupon Mom (I think that was the name), and she has a great system for coupons which really makes it fairly easy and organized. To get the most out of it though, it still takes time. I am going to try to get back into a bit. We'll see. is her website. Will probably post on it sometime.