Saturday, January 21, 2012

Budget Update

Am I turning into a weekends only blogger?  I keep thinking I will find the time during the week, but with all this newfound cleaning I am doing, there's no time during the day and I crash at night once the kids are in bed.  If I stop my cleaning momentum, then it's hard to get going again, so I try (not always successfully) to stay away from the computer during the day unless it's during John's nap, when we have pre-determined "rest time." 

Plus, Scott and I have a bad habit of staring at the computer screen once the kids are in bed, and we end up hardly talking to each other all night.  So...this week we started watching American Idol together, because it lends itself to "active watching," you know, conversation and such.  And I am loving it.  We took a few years off from AI, and I am so glad to be back.  (we are tv people, and, honestly, I am okay with it.  We are tired at the end of the day, and I like doing something mindless).


I thought I would check in with a little budget update.  I am still super frustrated with the grocery shopping situation.  My next strategy is to declare two nights of the week, not sure which ones, "snack dinner" nights.  You know, eat leftovers, pb and j, stuff from the freezer, etc.  We tend to waste leftovers around here because I just don't like them, but that is wasteful of food and money, so I am going to suck it up or fix myself a peanut butter sandwich--one of the two.  Sunday nights already tend to be fend for yourself nights since we eat a bigger meal for Sunday lunch, so it will probably be two more nights on top of that.  I plan to be intentional about cooking at least one meal a week that is enough for two nights, so that we don't end up eating sandwiches three nights out of the week.  Eggs also tend to be our fall back on eat whatever nights, and I am always glad to get a couple of eggs in the kids--health benefits and all. 

If this doesn't work, we might just have to face the facts and raise our grocery budget a bit.  I find myself stressed out every week because I go over budget every week.  If we just rework the budget a bit, it would take away some of the stress.  I am so curious to know what a typical grocery budget is for a family of four....anyone want to share?  (oh my word, I just used the word budget a lot).  I know people might not want to reveal that kind of information, but I would just love to know if I am being realistic with how much I want to spend each week.  It used to be totally possible to spend our set amount, but the kids are growing and they eat more food.  Plus, I buy lots of fruit each week because I try to make them snack on that between meals.  I make our meals out of whatever is on sale, so I try to be intentional about "real food" snacks in between--usually fruit, raw carrots (for Ada), nuts, or string cheese.  These things are always in the grocery cart, and I only buy the fruit that is on sale, but it adds up quickly.  It's not something I am willing to compromise on, though, unless I really have to.  I am hoping that declaring two nights of the week "leftover" nights will remedy the situation.

Thoughts?  Advice?  Words of wisdom? 

We also have a new budgeting strategy that we just heard from a friend, about actually having separate accounts for each category, so that the money automatically goes in the specific category at the beginning of the month.  Does that make sense?  Apparently this is easy to do with Bank of America, and it would make it easier to quickly see what is actually in the account if we go ahead and "pre-spend" the money from the beginning of the pay period.  We already do this on paper, obviously, (and on the computer screen), but I think it will be even more helpful for the money to actually be gone from the account.  (But right there and accessible when needed for each specific category).  I don't know if that explanation made sense at all, but we are excited to give it a go.

Any great budgeting tips that you want to pass along?  We are all for gaining wisdom from those who are also trying to stick to budget and be wise with their money!!!


Lauren said...

Our grocery budget for a family of 4 is $400 a month. That includes diapers and household products. I shop mainly at Wal-Mart with a Sams trip bi-monthly for bulk items. (We have a free membership through my husbands job) I receive all the small grocery stores sale fliers in our area and I always comp their sales at Wal- Mart which saves us quite a bit on fruit and meat. After the new baby arrives in May we will probably raise that to $450 since we will be buying more diapers and wipes. With food prices rising I have found it's harder to stay under budget each month too. We eat a lot like you guys do and I am really trying to be intentional about eating leftovers and not wasting food.

Beth said...

Our grocery budget for four (2 adults, 2 girls who are 4 and 18 months) is $250 which includes products like paper towels, foil, ziplocs, etc. but not toiletries or diapers. We always spend right up to the $250 and it is very hard not to go over. I try to cook a lot from scratch, buy some items in bulk at a local Mennonite grocery (oats, flour, rice), and use all of our leftovers and random scraps of food. I try to keep the leftovers from getting boring by changing the meal a little...for example, if I made some lime chicken in the crockpot that we used for tacos, I'll try to take the leftover chicken and make a mexican pizza. Or we might have the same main dish but I'll make a different side dish to go with it. It seems to keep my husband and kids from losing interest! I am with you on my kids being bottomless snacking pits! Also, I agree that the deals have not been there lately. I am using fewer and fewer coupons and just going for the loss leaders, the sale produce, and the sale meat, cheese, etc. Don't be discouraged--you are doing great and it's smart to not want to compromise your health just to spend a few dollars less!

Carrie said...

Have you tried some bulk cooking and freezing? I buy a case of chicken from Sam's ( I split it with a neighbor)ends up being about 1.17 a lb. Then I cook and shred it. I use it for casseroles, cook some for tacos and quesadilla,soup and BBQ. I freeze about 14 meals. Two a week with plenty of leftovers. So I only need to come up two meals a week. Helps keep things low. I also make my own cleaning products from baking soda, and borax and vinegar. Laundry detergent too. The laundry detergent works well. And ends up being something crazy like 7 cents a load. Got a lot of those ideas off Pinterest.

Amanda said...

Ok, I don't have a family of 4 and Will is eating baby food not "real" food, so I don't have a lot to comment BUT my friend Sara has 4 kids and does emealz. She says she can feed the fam for $80 a week. That doesn't include toiletries or diapers etc. But sounds pretty good for a family of 6.

Mary said...

OK, I know I will risk sounding like a gluttonous pig here, but our budget is way higher. I would say $225 (at Walmart) a week right now, but under more normal circumstances (which as you know is 4 adult-ish people and 2 smaller) it is around $50-60 at Publix, plus about $120 at Walmart for a total of $180 to $200 a week. I am mostly skipping all but the best deals at Publix eight now, just for my sanity's sake and because the great deals have been less. I love the idea of the separate has long been on my list of things to do to set that up with our ING accounts, so please keep me posted on how that works for you!