Thrifty Thinking: Budgeting for 2012 Part 3
Do You REALLY Know How Much You Spend on Groceries?
Do you have a set monthly or weekly grocery budget? Do you know how much you spend on groceries and toiletries? Whether you have a budget or not, do you really know how much you actually spend? My challenge to you this week, if you don’t already do this, is to record how much you spend on groceries.
What we spend on groceries is different every time we go to the store. If the grocery budget is the place that contains the most variables (i.e., it’s not a set amount like a car payment or mortgage), it’s important to track our patterns. I have been tracking for about five years. I don’t track every grocery receipt every month, but the last couple of years I tracked our grocery bill for two months, around the month of September. It gives me a really good idea of what I spend. We typically buy groceries with cash, so I track our grocery spending on a Google spreadsheet. The first few years I just did it on a Post-it Note. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it! I would highly suggest you try this for a month.
It can be eye opening to find out the reality of what we really spend on groceries. In ours heads we may think we are spending a certain amount, when in reality it could be much greater than that. Hopefully it is less….
The following is our actual average spending/week on groceries and toiletries for each year the fall:
- 2007: $ 42/week =$168 for 4 weeks
- 2008: $55/week =$220 for 4 weeks
- 2009: approx. $67/week=$268 for 4 weeks
- 2010: $ 74.89/week =$299.56 for 4 weeks
- 2011: $84.25/week =$337 for 4 weeks
Here is an example for the first two weeks that I kept record in the fall of 2011 (I even kept track of snacks or toiletries I might buy at Walmart or Kmart):
Week 1: Date Amount Weekly Total: $90.24 WinCo 9/11/2011 $41.25 Albertsons 9/13/2011 $0.80 (it must have been a double coupon day) Albertsons 9/13/2011 $7.45 Albertsons 9/13/2011 $1.62 Haggen 9/13/2011 $10.00 Alb 9/13/2011 $3.21 WinCo 9/14/2011 $25.91
Week 2: Date Amount Weekly Total: $88.42 Fred Meyer 9/19/2011 $46.50 Fred Meyer 9/20/2011 $3.24 Bartell Drugs9/20/2011 $9.24 IGA 9/20/2011 $6.15 Trader Joe’s 9/21/2011 $14.64 Albertsons 9/24/2011 $8.65
There are three factors I believe has helped to increase our grocery bills each year:
- In 1/07 and 6/09 we added one (small) mouth to feed which probably led to VERY minimal increase since I nursed my babies. So every year they eat more, and it costs a bit more to feed them incrementally.
- We have desired to eat healthier, so we’ve been buying more produce and natural products. For instance, we now buy way more fruits, vegetables, and items like Maple/Agave Syrup in lieu of Breakfast Syrups with high fructose corn syrup.
- The Gasoline Effect (I call it) has caused a surge in the price of all consumables, especially groceries.
Do any of you track your grocery spending daily, weekly, or yearly? Do you mind sharing how much you spend? I would love to hear how much an extreme couponer saves (which I am not). We’d love to hear how much you spend if you care to share.
Are there places you can save, like making your own hand soap, laundry soap, granola bars, snacks, yogurt, or meals in general? Are you paying a lot for convenience items? The more I explore, the more I realize you can make a lot more things that are not only money-saving, but just plain better for you. What kind of money-saving ideas do you like to employ to save your family money? I am currently researching how to make dishwasher detergent…we’ll see!
Have you read How Do You Get the Best Value for Groceries?