It’s a necessity of life. We all have to eat, no getting around it. But how much of your income goes toward keeping you fed depends a lot on your habits. I follow a couple other blogs on dollar-stretching, one of them Everydaycheapskate.com, which is written by Mary Hunt, a nationally-known author and motivational speaker. On the last day of 2015, she posted an article called “Spending HOW Much On Groceries?”
In her article, she says the U.S. Department Of Agriculture found that a family of four spends an average of $1,300.00 a month on groceries. That figure blew me away, and I re-read it to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. That adds up to $15,600 a year, an entire year’s income for many people.
Maybe that figure is also counting what they spend on restaurant eating. But even if that is the case, that just seems like way, way too much to be spending. I guess if you’re making $80,000 a year you can afford grocery bills like that, but I’m definitely not in that league!
To find out how much you’re actually spending to feed yourself and your household, you need to write down every time you buy something, and put it on a budget sheet. If you don’t have one yet, you can print up and use mine:
Record everything that is edible, including the soda you buy at the gas station, the gourmet coffee on the way to work, the candy bar you buy from the vending machine at work, the popcorn you enjoy at the theater, and the cookies you buy from your neighbor kid who’s doing a school fund-raiser. If you grab a cafeteria lunch, or run in to Little Caesar’s on your way home because there’s no time to cook, add that too. And of course, the dinners eaten at restaurants. Add all of these to the official grocery expenses. Fill in the chart daily so you don’t miss anything. At the end of the month and you will be astounded at the amount of your “necessity”.
Once you’ve got a baseline of your food expenses, you can decide if you need a plan to reduce it, or if you’re doing a good job but want to save a little more. My next post will give some ideas that have worked for me.