Budgeting

Today I actually feel like I have accomplished something. I have been trying to get organized all day, and I can say that I have done quite a few little things that I have been postponing, and it feels good to get stuff accomplished!

My middle daughter helped me with my graphics today as well – this has sped up my blog posts quite a bit. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of projects left to do for the blog – everything is coming back to the routine slowly after the holidays, and I am really hoping to get caught up with all of my tasks in the next few days! Can’t wait to get everything organized with my blogging tasks, and looking forward to what is in store for my blog development – stay tuned!

I have been numb about my budgeting issues for a while – now I want to organize everything, and will hope to finish this blog post with two budgets that I construct – I want to show what we have spent on food and other groceries for the months of November and December.

To start, I have to say that most of our family birthdays fall into these two months. We have a tradition of going out for those birthdays every time, sometimes a couple of times for each birthday, so it definitely adds up. Birthdays in our family are a huge deal. This year we have also gone on a trip to New Orleans this past December, so that was quite a money outlay as well – even though our hotel had a kitchenette, we did not have time or energy to cook in our room. When in New Orleans, in downtown, your best bet if probably going out to eat, and that is what we did. We loved the food, but I am scared to look in my budgeting for the month now – we have to keep in mind that while we try our best to stay in our budget, we also want to continue living in the circumstances that we are in – we can try and save only so much.

Overall though, over these two months, we have been quite careful about our food and grocery spending. We have been using Costco less often. We have been buying more from Amazon Fresh, just what we need, and adding to what we are missing in our pantry at any given moment. We have tried to use coupons when going out to fast food places, and save money whenever possible.

Also, other than the trip that we went to, which I am actually not including here – the birthday parties, we also had Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – all nice meals that we love to buy more expensive ingredients for to cook with.

November

Dairy orders – $53.44

Amazon deliveries – 100.14

Food – $117.94

Restaurants – $195.46

Whole Foods – $320.64

QFC – $156.09

Birthday meals – $349

Albertson’s – $94.39

Central market – $692.36

Total – $2079.46

Beignets from New Orleans

December

dairy deliveries – $53.44

Amazon deliveries – $330.98

QFC – $207.07

Costco – $615.85

Central Market – $332.83

Trader Joe’s – $362.27

Total for December – $1902.44

bundt cake homemade

January so far –

dairy deliveries for the month – $66.80

Amazon – $55.82 and $12.56

restaurant – $110

Central Market – $173.75

Birthday – $212.00

Food – $59.67 + $65.10

Drinks – $3.30 + $21.48

Drugstore – $75

Delivery – $7.92

Total as of January 15 so far – $863.40

So, all in all, we spent in November $2079.46, in December $1902.44, and so far in January – $863.40. Now, as I have said, I haven’t included the food we had on our trip, which was quite pricey, and I may have forgotten a few restaurants and deliveries that we have had should not be over $300 in total for those. So, all in all, I see a tendency for more savings this month of January. We’ll see where we get to at the end of the month, but we have a lot of supplies actually for now, as far as non-perishables go – all of these bills include both food and any other household groceries we buy – a lot of things that I call consumables – we have to use those products, and this is almost like a constant cost for us – I am not sure how we can save money on things like toilet paper and such.

Research on Food and Grocery Budgets

Today I have actually done a bit of research, and found that a typical expense on food and groceries for a family of 5 of our size and age group according to USDA right now is $1492.80 just for food if you are liberal with your spending. If you are on a thrifty plan, a family of our size could live on $767.80 spending on just food per month. Now, my expenses also include other groceries as I have said, so we could probably allow about $300 or so per month on those.

Analysis of our spending

I have already pointed out our issues these few months – birthday celebrations and holidays have really added up to our budgeting. We have overspent considerably every month, even compared with the most liberal spending plans.

One big ticket item in our expenses are diapers. While they are consumables, and we cannot really substitute them with anything else, I am hoping that our baby is going to potty train completely soon enough, and we will start saving some money in this area of expenses.

Where we have been more successful – we are trying to go less on large shopping trips not to overbuy. Often times, on the weekends, we ended up going shopping, and then ultimately eating out because we’d be stuck in the mall areas, and have to eat there. We are actually doing this less now, and are eating more at home. I feel that we have been avoiding going out at least once a week for the last few months.

One other change that will considerably impact our budgets is that my daughter is no longer going to her classes in downtown. We used to go with the whole family every weekend for her class, and every time ended up eating our lunch out, which is so expensive in the downtown area even though we would always eat in the food court. We would also often end up going to museums in the downtown area, buying souvenirs or tickets to places. Because we are not doing any classes in the next few months for her, as the classes have been cancelled, I think we will feel a lot of savings on those lunches and other expenses as well, looking forward.

Planning for the year and this month in particular

What else can I plan for the next little while? I feel that we can easily stay under $2000 every month for all of the expenses. Now the question is – could we try harder and have even lower expenses?

I have difficulties now distinguishing what exactly is being spent on what – where the expenses go – whether on food, restaurants, or consumables. I am hoping to be able to take note of my expenses in the next month a bit better hopefully, and track better what is spent on the consumables, and what is spent on food and restaurants. This is a big task for me, not that I am lazy, but I find it to be difficult to track everything just perfectly, but I will try. Will not give you my word, but I will try my best.

I want to try to track down what happens with the food that we buy, how it is turning over from the receipt to my meals, and how much my meals actually cost me when I cook them from scratch.

Here is what I want to do – in the month of January I want to spend in total $1500 on my food expenses and then $350 on my consumables. I am giving myself a generous amount here, even more than USDA has calculated for the most generous liberal spending plan, and I am still going to have the total of $1850 as my budget for the month, so I am not going to stretch myself too thin, but at the same time, I want to track what I am doing.

What I find to be true is that even if my spending is not capped very strictly, if I am simply tracking my spending carefully, I already see some progress, and do usually try harder to try to meet my goals. This is the same, I think, that works for people who are trying to lose weight – if they track what they eat exactly, even if they do not really try very hard to eat that much less, I think the act of tracking itself helps to see exactly what you are eating, and keep that under control a little better.

We’ll see where we will be at the end of the month, and I will do my best to track my spending, as much as I am able to.

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