How Do You Budget Your Money?

I like to think that Tony and I are pretty good about managing our money.  The only debt we have is our house and we only have one credit card for emergencies.  I am the queen of the grocery store sale flyer, we don’t eat out more than once a week usually, but I still thought there was room for improvement.

Enter:  http://mint.com.  This is a free site that links to your actual bank account and lets you categorize how you spend your money.  I decided to categorize debits and label “groceries” for our purchases at Dominick’s, Jewel, Dollar Tree, Butera, Fresh Market and Sam’s Club from September 20 to October 20.

Imagine my shock when added all together?  $871.99!  For a family of 3, and usually Hannah only eats one meal at home a day.  That’s $29 a day!  And if someone came up to me and asked me how much I spent on groceries for the month, I would have been 100% dead certain it would have been about $475 a month.

And we spent $229.90 dining out for the month, which I actually don’t think is too bad because that included my Mom’s birthday lunch and Tony’s birthday dinner. 😀

Does anyone pay cash for groceries, and when its gone you just eat out of your fridge/freezer/pantry?  Hopefully some budget queens (or kings!) will leave their tips in the comment section!  But this was a complete eye opener for me. 😦

When we went to Goodwill last Sunday my Mom wanted to stock up at the Entenmann’s outlet and I picked up mini Arnold thins – still 100 calories for 2 but I like tiny food.  Tony doesn’t like tiny food, but if there are sliders, small plates I am all over them. 😀

Two arnold thins, 1 Pam “fried” egg, deli ham and cheese – with warmed sliced fuji apple sprinkled with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon/sugar mix (it’s next to our coffee pot – so good and if you put 1/2 a teaspoon into eTools it comes in at zero points!).  Breakfast comes in at 8 points.

I brought my wind breaker jacket to work, but it was so windy/rainy/cold I chickened out of my walk – I need to bring in a winter hat and gloves to keep at work  – weather.com said it felt like 37 degrees outside because of the wind.  Check out this link – 20 boats got damaged because of wind!

So I stayed nice and toasty poasty at my desk and kept warm with my chili mac soup and a cheddar biscuit – lunch comes in at 11 points.

I ended up making chicken parm for dinner – only one thing, I was out of bread crumbs.  So I took two pieces of toast from my freezer, put them in the toaster and then blended them in my food processor.  Um, it didn’t work very well – half the crumbs fell off – and the crumbs started to brown too fast and when I brought the chicken to the table, we both cut into our chicken and it was still a bit raw on the inside – luckily my blood sugar wasn’t too low and I didn’t get mad!  I just nuked the chicken for 2 minutes in the microwave.

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat this whole plate, I ate 3/4 of it and the dog had the rest – dinner comes in at 10 points.

Is it just me, or do you find this weird?  The 2011 Foodbuzz Awards are out and voting is open.  It’s always nice to find new blogs to read (because you know, there aren’t that many food blogs out there to read – ha!).

In the Best Family Blog Category is this one:  You Fed A Baby Chili?  I am just curious how this blog was nominated when he only has 7 posts in 2011.  How you could be nominated on the content of 7 posts is beyond my comprehension.

But I do have a favorite blogger if you could run and go vote for her – Sophia of Burp & Slurp.  We have been blog “friends” since early 2009.  That’s the wonder of the blog world, where else would I become friends with a 20 something UCLA student?  She’s also sent me the most amazing granola for Christmas a couple years ago. 😀

You can vote for your favorite food bloggers here.  I think my nomination must have gotten lost in the mail.  😀

Stats for Thursday

  • 34 points, including 5 points for cookies eaten when my blood sugar dropped
  • no exercise
  • average blood sugar 97
Happy Friday!  Not looking foward to WW tomorrow – with my lack of exercise and extra licks and tastes, but I have to face the music. 😀
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29 thoughts on “How Do You Budget Your Money?

  1. Yeah, the old grocery budget can come back to bite you for sure. I haven’t been tracking my grocery budget much lately (too busy!), but I use a variety of tactics.

    The one that works the best for me is setting a weekly cash budget. In 2009, I alternated budgets each month: $160, $320. (That did not include the CSA – my veggies were pre-paid at $20/week, though it didn’t provide all of our veggies). I made it until September, when I got tired.

    I am quite surprised your expenses are so high. But know that I didn’t each much meat back then. Plus, those numbers did not include alcohol or cleaning supplies, or medical stuff like tylenol. Food only.

    Also, when I really want to save money I stop buying processed food. I don’t buy much as it is, but those chips, jars of salsa, boxes of cereal, etc. start to add up.

  2. Your “grocery” bill seems high, but does that include things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc? I know we have a whopper of a bill from Sam’s every once in a while when we have to buy those items.

    Oh, and on the Foodbuzz awards, I don’t put a lot of stock into them or any of those crazy awards – I think they just want the publicity (look at how many bloggers have been pimping out Shape magazine???). And like you said, a blog that only had seven posts for the year got nominated? And you didn’t??? Bogus.

    Stay warm, my friend!

  3. How do I budget? Badly. 😀 My husband would be tickled pink if I did as well as you on groceries. We spend $1200 on a light month for 3 adults, 4 cats, and 1 dog. Plus eating out!

    I want that chili mac soup… now! That looks amazing.

    Wow, nominated with 7 posts?! 😮 They must be super extraordinary posts! hahaha

  4. The only thing that I can think of that could be causing your bill to be so high is Tony’s dislike of leftovers. I know my bill is lower because I make a couple of meals on the weekend and we eat those same things for the next 7 days. And if we don’t eat it all or are getting tired of something, it goes straight to the freezer to be brought out for a meal at some time when I don’t feel like cooking.

    I also wonder does that include ALL your groceries including paper goods, laundry detergent, healthy and beauty items and cleaning supplies? If so, maybe what you spend is not all that bad, especially for 3 people!

  5. Mike just found that mint site and is using it to learn to budget. For us, because we are beyond broke this year, I have $40.00 a week for groceries. Nothing else, nothing more. That has to buy everything from food to laundry makings to dishwasher soap to dog and cat food. I don’t use my debit card or credit card and just bring in the $40.00 when shopping. I shop once a week, Sunday after the ads come out and if I forget something it’s like tough luck. I feed our family of three and daycare of 1-4 each day so I get pretty creative (as you’ve read on my bakings and such on my blog). It’s hard, sometimes very hard but I have my own garden foods, chickens for meat and eggs and I do Ruby’s Ministries for $15.00 a share once a month and if I can swing it I will do Angel Ministries for $45.00 a share once a month. With both of them and my own stuff the only things I need at the store are what I can’t make like the milk, flour, sugar, spices and few other things. I do miss all the fresh stuff sometimes but what’s a girl to do on a very tight budget, just be careful that’s all.
    The mint site seems to be awesome and Mike is learning where every single cent is going and that is so cool.
    Take care Biz and thank you for stopping by. I read you each and every morning and though I don’t always come and tell you so you have taught me so much and have given me many different recipes to try or change a bit to what we have. Thank you so much. Have a great and blessed day today. TGIF!!!

  6. Confession time: I’m a CPA and I hate dealing with our own money!! I spend all day dealing with my clients’ money, last thing I want to do is mess with ours.

    But we kinda eyeball where our money goes and it’s amazing how much we spend on food! Groceries and eating out kill us. I’ve considered going on a “grocery diet” sometimes where we just eat out of our pantry and freezer -then you have to be creative!

    That chili mac soup sounds perfect for the chilly weather we’re having in Atlanta right now. 🙂

    Are you going to be at the FoodBuzz Festival??

  7. I know I have to do a better job with our grocery budget. We don’t eat out much, always take a lunch, never buy coffee, etc., but we spend a lot on groceries. I honestly can’t tell you how much as I conveniently “forget” to add it all up…

    When my older son was little, I had a very strict (very small) grocery budget. I always paid cash, and when it was gone it was gone. We didn’t always eat the healthiest foods though, and I don’t think I could go back to doing things exactly like back then.

    One thing I have been doing more is freezing leftovers and “stretching” recipes to make a whole other meal. For example, I’ll add a few more beans and veggies to chili so that there is enough to freeze for another meal. We also have more leftovers. That way, I get a whole other meal for very little money.

    Finally, I know I spend less if I go to the store less. It’s just too easy to pick up a whole bunch of “extras” I don’t really need….

  8. I am going to check out that banking site, I’ve been meaning to sort my finances tht way but just never have. We’ve been doing good with paying off the debt but I certainly think there is room for improvement.

    I agree, it’s odd on that blog being nominated. Those must have been 7 awesome posts! Weirder still if he wins!

  9. Sophia is one of my favorite bloggers too! 🙂

    I think for grocery shopping – something like mint is great. It seems like you stop at the store after work a lot lately, so maybe go back to your meal plannin’ ways and it might drop? Also, an easy way to save money is to do a meatless meal or two a week (and/or meatless lunches). I know Tony is probably not super into that, but you could do things like veggie chili or lasagna because the meat is not super missed in those sorts of things?

  10. Hey you! Lately I have been buying groceries with cash only and limiting myself to $40 a day. Most days I am under but some are over a bit, but the under days make up for the over. See? Which means I am cooking more from scratch and finding more affordable cuts of meat- lots of chicken thighs which I prefer anyway. 7 posts, that’s it! Yeah it is a popularity contest. My nom got lost in the mail too. Have a great weekend Biz!

  11. Good question! We don’t have any debt because we don’t own a house – we have 1 credit card that we use and pay each month. Now this might sound high, but I spend about $20 a day on average on my own food. I have been eating out more (healthy salads and stuff, nothing too terrible) because I don’t have much time to cook and I don’t miss it yet! I actually did the calculations a few months ago, like you (using Mint – love it) and realized that I was spending almost that much on groceries anyway so I might as well eat out more (cheaply) and save myself some effort. It has also helped me stop snacking because I don’t have so many snacks in the house!

  12. For years I was forced to take a calculator to the grocery store. When I reached my limit, I started putting things back on the shelf. I’ll admit that for the past few years I’ve enjoyed shopping without counting the cost. Since we’re hoping to semi retire soon, I need to get back to budgeting for the grocery store. It amazes me how fast things add up even when I’m using coupons and shopping specials. AND, we rarely buy meat.

    I remembered that you said you cook for someone (sister-in-law?) so that’s an extra person. And, if you haven’t separated out the toiletries and paper products and detergents, then a lot of your purchases are not food. Just saying. 🙂

  13. Being a one income family, we haven’t become really good at budgeting. As far as budgeting for groceries goes, I usually set an amount and then I take out cash for that amount, and when it’s gone then I have to eat out of the pantry. Ray and I both love leftovers though, so that helps us out. I definitely meal plan around sales, and also cut back on the amount of meat in a lot of recipes.

    I can’t believe someone was nominated after 7 posts, that’s insane!

  14. Sorry it took me so long to get over here but I hurt myself laughing so hard at the thought of me and budgeting and money. Hilarious. Oh, I WISH I was the budget QUEEN. But I’m NOT. Hubs wishes I was too.

    I have GOT to make that chili mac soup! Oh, and I’m sure your nomination was lost in the mail but I would have voted for you in a skinny minute!

  15. When I see what you pay for groceries, especially meat, I would’ve thought you were over-estimating at $475/month! WOWZA! I’m scared to take a closer look now!

    There’s just 2 of us, and not including dog food, toiletries, eating out, etc. we spend $200/month on groceries. HOWEVER, Mark doesn’t really eat breakfast and he sometimes buys lunch at work. I eat 3+ meals a day all from home 95% of the time, so I’m pretty happy with that! Cutting out diet soda has really shaved cost!

    Happy weekend, Biz!

  16. Ugh. I’m 100% dreading my meeting tomorrow morning…

  17. We don’t budget groceries, and I know we spend a lot more than most people I know. Why? We’re very particular about where our food comes from. Yep, I’m one of those people that took Food Inc and other documentaries/books like that to heart. That doesn’t mean I don’t look for the cheapest options (that meet my standards), but I know that my food choices are going to cost me more, and I’m okay with that.

    I also realize that not everyone has this luxury. But it’s a choice we’ve made. We’ve also cut out most meat during the week, which helps to balance things out.

    Biz, with your focus on fresh food, it’s going to cost more for some things. Vegetables cost more than junk. But the healthy stuff and managing your diabetes with it will make a difference in your quality of life for years to come.

  18. “Does anyone pay cash for groceries, and when its gone you just eat out of your fridge/freezer/pantry? ”

    This is us. I wouldn’t dream of buying groceries or a restaurant meal on credit. Cash only and has always been this way.

    We spend $100 a week on groceries and household supplies, for three people, including lunches for our school age daughter and hubs at work [he usually eats leftovers]. We’ll stock up on mainstays when we see an awesome sale or a great coupon – and then when it gets a little tight we pantry dive. But that’s fun and I like doing it.

    With prices going up [but not our salary] it is getting harder to buy fresh fruit and veggies, milk, cheese & eggs – which is frustrating. We’re supposed to eat healthy, but it is so hard.

    And if any if the older kids come home for a visit? Well, the budget is blown and we beg the electric company to give us a wee bit of an extension. heehee I keed, I keed.

  19. Yeah, I guess my foodbuzz nom got lost in the mail, too.

    John and I are pretty frugal now. Although, we didn’t used to be and paid for that (literally). I like mint.com

  20. 2 adults, 3 kids = $600-$800 a month on groceries. Some of my purchases are so high (organic chicken, organic milk) and others are super cheap (bulk oats, lentils, pasta).

    I try to even out my big expenses with grinding my own wheat and making bread, and using dried beans and lentils a lot. We also eat oats most mornings, healthy and super cheap when bought in bulk.

    We eat out maybe once a month as a family, 1-2 x as a couple. We don’t eat fast food. Also I never waste food. I love making big batches of soup or chili and having them all week.

    7 posts? So lame!!!

  21. i STINK at budgeting for food. But- I think of youre going to spend money on one thing, healthy fresh food is the way to go!! I can’t exercise outside when its cold. I am a total whimp. I am totally down with your lunch though- YUM!

  22. We are struggling to manage a food budget. The cost of everything here is out of control! I hate reading food blogs because i get SO excited to try something new, yet I can’t get enough of them! When you figure it out, let me know!

  23. Roz@weightingfor50

    Hi Vat. I’ve gotta get myself on that site. I am pretty good at shopping the sales and going to a number of places for groceries but I think we could probably do a little better. And it seems prices around me are going up and up, but my salary isn’t, so I have to be a little more aware than I already am. Have a wonderful Friday.

  24. I’m actually in the same boat. I know for sure we spend way too much on groceries (I blame it on the blog-ha!) but I actually don’t really even know howmuch! I’m going to check out mint.com. Hubby always says you will spend however much money you have, so it’s best to spend it all on paper before you spend it in real life, budgeting where every penny will go, including savings of course. Now if I would only be consistent about it!

  25. I’m always complaining about our grocery bill. Especially since I have a teenage boy in the household. I’ve been trying to stick to chicken legs, chicken thighs, whole chicken to save money and leave pork and beef as a treat. I’m curious as to how much the grocery bill will lower after he moves out!

    Sophia definitely as my vote!

    Have a great weekend, Biz!

  26. so happy for sophia! i did nominate her too!

  27. Wow, I havn’t see any of the mini Arnold thins yet. I think I would like them, plus I can use one of them of a snack….

  28. My husband and I do a pretty good job at managing our money, but we are always striving to do better. I am going to check out Mint.com. Once a month I let our food supply dwindle so the refrigerator and cupboards almost bare. During that time I only buy bananas, apples, milk and cold cuts for my husband’s lunch.

    I make rice and beans once a week which usually stretches for at least two nights. I also try to keep a couple of containers of beans frozen for those really busy days or when I just don’t feel like cooking.

    Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shopping trips are limited to no more than once a month. I use the Costco American Express card for purchases at Costco only so I only shop there when the previous bill is paid.

    I try to bake some kind of snack once a week to cut down on processed food costs. It is much more expensive to eat healthy foods and I don’t even buy all organic. I enjoyed reading all the comments because I’m always looking for tips on how to save money in this department.

    Funny that you mentioned the Food Buzz Awards. I was a bit baffled by some of the nominees. I will head back and vote for Sophia right now.

  29. I love mint.com. It’s really eye opening to see where our money goes! We have a budget of 400 dollars a month for our family of four. I totally shop the ads and make sure that I am using stuff out of our pantry and freezer as I can. Also, if I forget something for a recipe, I have to adjust because I don’t go back to the store and get it. I plan very very carefully for my grocery trips!!

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