Saturday, January 10, 2015

A New Goal for the New Year - 2015

No, it's not weight related or fitness related.

Well, those still stand.  I still want to lose about 6-10 more pounds and stay fit and get fitter.

But this is  grocery budget goal.

I've fallen off the grocery budget wagon of late.  This started as a frugal cooking blog.  The other day, I was perusing old posts, and I came to 2009.  If you've been reading that long (maybe one of you?), back in 2009 I made it a goal to eat on very little.

My goal was to alternate months - one month $160/ month, the next $320.  That comes out to being an average of $240/ month.  That did NOT include the CSA (pre-paid at about $900 for the year).  I made it to September and then I got tired and quit.  It was still worthwhile.

The fun part and challenging parts - well, I started with a well-stocked freezer (like now).  The $160 months were really just using what I had on hand and replacing only necessities.  The $320 were much more flush - but as I ate through the freezer, I had to choose - loosen the reigns and get something "special", or restock the freezer?

Here's a snapshot of the first half: (I made it three more months):

I haven't even LOOKED at the budget in forever - we stopped using Quicken to track our finances (just don't have time to enter everything anymore).  We started using, but I didn't have the password.

So today I logged into Mint, and checked the budget for last year.  Note: certain stores always come up as groceries, even if they are not. I was able to adjust some (for example: the new mattress at Costco), but there are others I could not.  For example, Costco is sometimes food and sometimes diapers and sometimes both.  So I'm sure last year's total has diapers and other non-foods in there.  But there is no way to break it out.

I will try to break it out this year.  I have a notebook and a pencil (despite being an engineer and an Excel nerd at work, I like paper).  That will let me subtotal the Costco trips.

Here's a snapshot of our food costs up to 2010.

One other issue is that we are 4 people now, not 3.

Do you want to know the damage for 2014?  Here it is:
Groceries: $10,261.
Dining Out: $2,121

(That doesn't include my protein shakes, which are $100/month.  I'm not even sure how they are categorized.  Health and Fitness?)

So I decided to try to set a budget again, along the lines of 2009.   I'm not sure I can really do it - I mean, full time job, 2 kids, PTA job.  But I really just need to get back in the habit of cooking more "snack foods"  - buying yogurt in big tubs, not small containers.  Baking more bread (for the boys, anyway), cooking beans more often (I seem to be on the once a month trend.)

But if I even can come close for 1/2 the month, that will be savings!

Here's how I did my calculations:
2009: average of $240 a month
From 2009 to 2012, groceries have gone up about 25% (google tells me so)
I've added another family member (albeit a small one)

$240/month x 12 months x 1.25 (25% grocery increase) x 1.15 (new kid) = $4140
52 weeks a year = $80 per week

The CSA was already paid for, $935.

If I hit it (and to be honest, we have already spent 50% more than that this year, before I made this decision), then the yearly total will be $5075, about half last year's.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I'm not going to hit it.  Maybe it will be fun to try?


Biz said...

I think I have been reading you since 2009!

Yep, life sometimes gets in the way - I used to too, but it's been years.

Now with the kids in the house, I am spending more money on groceries, but I can't really tell yet because I haven't had a true full week of meal planning because of the holidays and being out of town last weekend. I am hoping for $100 a week though!

Anonymous said...

The USDA publishes a cost of food, here's one:

The give guidelines based on family size and thrifty, low cost, moderate, and liberal. At $900, you are moderate, and dropping to $560 would be thrifty. I've also gone from below thrifty to moderate (and back down), and, meh. I will say that its good to know how to cut expenses to the bone, but $500/family is not significant budget wise? At least for me, going from $200/mo to $100 meant a sharp reduction in produce variety, condiments... As long as I'm eating at home, what kind of grocery splurges are cheaper than eating out? For me, fish and meat, a fancy teabag or luxury cheese, an occasional wine.

Marcia said...

I used to read that cnpp site all the time to make comparisons. By "all the time" I mean "before I had my second kid".

I kind of remember being thrifty or low-cost. Now you are going to make me go back and look at the latest data.

I bought wine AND fancy cheese this weekend, but at least I made bread!!