PDA

View Full Version : Crazy question - grocery budget?


rszdtrvl
05-27-2010, 10:42 AM
Do you have a grocery budget? How do you figure out a grocery budget?

I just purchased Dave Ramsey's book online, and it will be here next week. Is there anything in there about how to figure out a grocery budget?

Groceries/shopping are my weak points. I feel like Becky Bloomwood at times (Shopaholic book series).

We are a family of 3 with 2 dogs and a cat.

I am so lost at the thought of a grocery budget. I think it will be the hardest part of all for me when it comes to reducing debt (sticking to a grocery budget).

How do you do it??

Tinker'n'Fun
05-27-2010, 11:00 AM
Figuring out a grocery budget is actually quite easy, the hard part is sticking to it and not impulse purchasing.

Every family is different. (Before I go on I know nothing about what Dave Ramsey is going to say on this matter) The best thing you can do is to write some normal meals that your family eats (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Price them out to give you a guide. For the first few weeks approximate your cost and try very hard not to go over. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. After a few weeks you will get an idea of what a normal week is for you. I would then set a specific budget and stick to it. Most people need to use coupons and shop sales to stay within their budget. If you always seem to have a little left over each week, lower your budget, don't purchase extra items, because that thinking will snowball and you will end up purchasing items that you won't use.

This will give you a very generic start to a budget. But I thought I would let you know mine and maybe others could to and you will be able to fit yourself in.

I am in the NorthEast. We have 4 in our family, my DD is 17 and DS is 14. They bring lunches to school. We do not have any pets. These totals include all toiletries. I shop a bit different:

Sams Club (once every month for toiletries and a few items) $150.00
Weekly budget: $75.00
Once every 3 months I purchase around $210.00 in pantry items to keep the house stocked. This may include items such as can goods, meats, and snacks I would normally not get.

So averaged: $130.00 per week (I just used 4 weeks per month)

rszdtrvl
05-27-2010, 11:13 AM
That seems easy enough.

I am looking forward to other replies too!

The way I see it right now is $100/mo for pets. That works out to $24/week. Includes food, litter, treats, etc. It may be more or may be less.

I am stuck when it comes to the people part though, LOL.

mster425
05-27-2010, 11:25 AM
We just went cash only for our groceries within the past month. Before that I was debit card only, so it was easy to look at how much I was spending on groceries per month- then I did 25% less than that.

For 2 of us in PA we are trying for $300/month, including toiletries, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. If we have money left over we'll cut it back more.

Of course, our first trip to the grocery store I brought DH, and we were out of things like TP; we spent $120!!!

Justsyd2
05-27-2010, 11:44 AM
We don't have a grocery budget. It can be restrictive when you come across a lot of sales that will actually save you money. If you only have a set amount to spend then you can't really purchase enough to save money without sacrificing for the week. We do shop sales, and stock up when we can, otherwise, we buy what we have on the list, and anything else that is a good deal.

Nik's Mom
05-27-2010, 11:49 AM
My budget for a family of four is $75 a week. Sometimes I go over when I seem to run out of everything at once. But then other weeks, I go under budget. I also try to stock up when things go on sale.

It really helps for me to make a meal plan for the week. That way, I can base my grocery list off of that and only purchase what I need. I always go over my budget when I don't shop with a grocery list.

jakoky
05-27-2010, 12:04 PM
Groceries are so hard for me...we are a family of 5( 2 adults, 3 teenagers) and a dog...i also babysit in my house...i think an average week for me is about 170....some weeks are less, some are more...i just dont know how to cut my bill, unless i restrict what my kids can eat...just milk and cheese alone runs me 35 dollars a week...add in veggies, fruit and yogurt and i am at another 35 easy...add in toilet paper and "supplies" for 3 girls in the home, and that is another 15-20 a month...my pantry is fully stocked...i use coupons when i can and try to buy mainly sales only..one way i do save is with my cleaning...i clean only with vinegar, baking soda, and dishsoap...i dont do it to save, i do it because it is way better for us than chemicals, but it does save me money :cool1:.i do refuse to "be cheap" with groceries, but really wish i could some how lower what i spend...eating healthy does cost more! Good luck to you, i look forward to seeing what others write..

Nik's Mom
05-27-2010, 01:06 PM
I find that when I make things from scratch, it ends up being cheaper. Sure, in the beginning it is more expensive. You have to buy spices, etc. But in the long run, my bill has dropped a lot since I started cooking from scratch.

If you are someone who will only eat organic, then your bills will be higher. I buy organic fruit when it is on sale. But for the most part, I do not just buy organic. I'd say my biggest expense comes from produce.

Jakoky,
Wow! $35 on cheese and milk! My boys used to go through 6 gallons of milk a week, so I sympathize. Do you have a Costco near you? Milk is pretty cheap there.

keepmoving4ward
05-27-2010, 01:09 PM
:wave: We follow the Dave Ramsey plan.
Groceries are my biggest expenditure too (behind mortgage but I can't change that) so I budget everything I HAVE to pay a fixed amount for ie. mortgage, bills, etc first. And since the first "baby step" is to set aside money for an emergency fund, I have that taken directly out of my dh's paycheck so I don't see it.
Then I move onto the cash envelope system. Groceries are first and I figured the amount based on past shopping trips. We are a family of four and I put $220 to cover two weeks in the grocery envelope. if I spend less than that in the two weeks (hasn't happened yet) then I'd add the leftover to another envelope like "gifts." if I spend more then I take it out of our "dining out" envelope which gets $100 a month.
We have been following the plan for two months and it is getting a little easier but it has really opened my eyes to how much we overspend. And I've had to make some changes in order to cover everything (canceled the gym, cable, selling the car to buy a cheaper one, and I'm making a big Garage sale pile, although the money from that will be put towards WDW of course.).
See if you can sign up online on his website to use a free 90 day gazelle budget. It's really helpful! Good luck :thumbsup2!

rszdtrvl
05-27-2010, 01:15 PM
I could probably do the $220 every 2 weeks for groceries. But pet food would need to be separate. I think the $100/month would cover them just fine.

I like the envelope thing, as when we eat out the money can come from the grocery fund.

I am going to start doing the envelope thing on the 10th, as we just had payday on the 25th and now I am trying to prepare for the change we are about to go through. For now though, I will take out the money that we have not yet spent on groceries (I only spent a little over $100) so that we can use cash though.

We have the money in savings, so that is a good thing.

Besides our mortgage and car payment, we are down to one credit card as of a few minutes ago (I paid 2 that had small balances off).

This summer, our goal is to pay off the credit card. If we pay off the car too, that is great!

keepmoving4ward
05-27-2010, 01:16 PM
I find that when I make things from scratch, it ends up being cheaper. Sure, in the beginning it is more expensive. You have to buy spices, etc. But in the long run, my bill has dropped a lot since I started cooking from scratch.

If you are someone who will only eat organic, then your bills will be higher. I buy organic fruit when it is on sale. But for the most part, I do not just buy organic. I'd say my biggest expense comes from produce.

Jakoky,
Wow! $35 on cheese and milk! My boys used to go through 6 gallons of milk a week, so I sympathize. Do you have a Costco near you? Milk is pretty cheap there.

And we do mostly buy organic products, and grass fed cuts of meat ($ cha ching!) so thats why I have chosen to cut back/cancel some things so I can afford it. I also have my own garden to save money, so if you are able to do that it helps!

keepmoving4ward
05-27-2010, 01:19 PM
I could probably do the $220 every 2 weeks for groceries. But pet food would need to be separate. I think the $100/month would cover them just fine.

I like the envelope thing, as when we eat out the money can come from the grocery fund.

I am going to start doing the envelope thing on the 10th, as we just had payday on the 25th and now I am trying to prepare for the change we are about to go through. For now though, I will take out the money that we have not yet spent on groceries (I only spent a little over $100) so that we can use cash though.

We have the money in savings, so that is a good thing.

Besides our mortgage and car payment, we are down to one credit card as of a few minutes ago (I paid 2 that had small balances off).

This summer, our goal is to pay off the credit card. If we pay off the car too, that is great!

Awesome! You are on a roll! You've already mastered baby step 1 and working on baby step 2! I'm still slowly chipping away on step 1:eek:

jfoofj
05-27-2010, 01:21 PM
Family of 4, 2 boys age 8 & 9 and 2 dogs and 2.5 cats (one just kinda visits us every now and again). I spend about $150/week. I do shop sales, and stock up when a frequently used item is on sale... DH and I bring lunches to work... I know I can do better but I haven't made the leap to couponing yet and I am a HORRIBLE impulse shopper at the grocery stores.... I always get ideas for different meals and grab whatever catches my eye.

keepmoving4ward
05-27-2010, 01:22 PM
And I just noticed you are WA too, how funny! Aberdeen? A Great wolf lodge vacation is a good idea to break up time before a WDW vacation. Good plan!

amylynne01
05-27-2010, 02:45 PM
To make a grocery budget, I kept track of my normal spending for a couple of months and then figured out how much I spent monthly (or weekly if you choose). I do monthly because I do a bigger shopping every 2-3 weeks and smaller trips in between. I budget 375 a month for a family of 4 for everything but have been averaging more around 320 since the beginning of the year. This month I will be going over since I spent only 200 in April and we're having 2 bday parties for DD2 (never again!). But in terms of how much I spent in a year, I'm still under my budgeted goal.

I disagree with a PP that a grocery budget is restrictive. I buy what I need first (milk, eggs, meat, produce, etc) and use the rest of the money on stockpile items. Besides this month, I have always stuck in that budget, and my house is full of food. We're eating more and more healthy every month, so it's not all processed stuff but not organic either. It makes me be more creative with how I cook and how I shop.

rszdtrvl
05-27-2010, 04:08 PM
And I just noticed you are WA too, how funny! Aberdeen? A Great wolf lodge vacation is a good idea to break up time before a WDW vacation. Good plan!

Exactly. We are kind of burnt out on Disneyland anyway. Plus, if we like GWL, it is WAY cheaper to go there for a couple of nights during Spring Break instead of DL.

I worked out a budget, to start on the 10th when DH gets paid next. We shall see how it works. I am excited about trying this, and hope it works! DH is more timid about it (we stink at budgeting), but we are both hoping for the best!

figaromeetsmarie
05-27-2010, 07:37 PM
My grocery bills varies per week. Its between $100-200 dollars a week depending on how many kiddos are over and how much we entertain. My biggest saver is using coupons and matching them to sale items. Publix is my best friend when it comes to grocery shopping. They do BOGO sales and you can use two coupons. For instance today, I bought..

6 Lawry's Marinades
4 Bush's Grilling Beans
2 packs of honey wheat rolls
strawberries
8 ronzoni pastas
Ground Beef ($3.11 worth)
Total would have been $38.74 before sales and coupons
I spent $8.86

So I saved $29.88 just buy matching sale items and coupons.

My biggest budget buster is meat. We like ground beef and chicken breasts and they never go below $2.99-$3.99 a pound here:sad2:

LovesTimone
05-27-2010, 08:10 PM
I just started really getting serious with the coupons.
I'm really learning as I go. But it takes alot of work and organizing to get the ball rolling.
I joined one of the coupon trains; which has been great.
I make a list of what we need.
I'm a Publix girl I go online :surfweb:to check out their add, they have a printable grocery list which is great you can see the ad and just click and it adds it to the list, you also can add things not in the sale ad, eggs, milk bread, whatever.Print simple :banana:

I then check out other sales fliers, circling things on my list.

Then I go through my coupons, to see what matches up. Some stores will take competitors coupons, then I figure out what the best deal is.
I make sure to check with customer service before you get in line what their policy is and if they accept certain coupons ie; buy one get one free, store coupons, they have always been nice and explained it to me. Write down the price of items if they are free saves time at check out.

What I found works for me is:
buy whats on the list, do not go when you are hungrypopcorn::, plan your shopping outing when the stores are not packed, when you don't feel rushed you don't impulse buy.

For the last 3 weeks my grocery bill has been coming down about 20.00 each week from the week before. So hopefully I will be able to get a good idea of what I should spend monthly in the next couple of weeks.

dizluvah
05-27-2010, 08:20 PM
Most of what I do has been said...i meal plan for the week based on sale ads and what I currently have on hand in pantry/freezer - so I plan meals based on what is available in my house and what I can get from sales/coupons etc.

I stockpile when things I use go on sale - I know the prices around here for items I buy frequently (soda, pasta sauce, pasta, canned goods, etc) and when something we like/use often goes on sale I stock up....for example I will buy 6 jars of pasta sauce when it is on sale.

You will start to know prices of things - I have a yes I will buy it price for Coke products (3.25 - 3.50 per 12 pack) and a stock up price ($2.50 per 12 pack). I simply won't buy it when it is $4.50 a 12 pack

The key to stockpiling is to be organized in your pantry/cupboard so everything gets used before expiring - otherwise you aren't saving any money if it goes to waste.

Kudos on tackling a grocery budget, as with most things it will get easier with practice.

Taja
05-27-2010, 08:47 PM
Lots of good ideas! :)

I started "power cooking" when I was caring for my parents and uncle. I didn't have time to work, shop, take care of them (father had Alzheimers) and everything else, and try to have dinner on the table by 6:00 or 6:30 p.m.!

Usually one or two weekends per month (based on local sales), I would cook, portion and freeze roasts, chicken breasts, and a few casseroles. It kept the costs down, and allowed me to plan meals without having to run to the store more than once a week. Of course, then you have to be sure everything is marked and you keep the freezer organized! *LOL*

This system is nice when you need to control seasonings (low sodium, in our case), have limited time to prepare meals and want to minimize costs. If you're doing laundry and housework on the weekend (or in the evenings), you can multi-task and do the major cooking and have a good variety after a few weeks. You can take it much farther than I did--but I'm really not that much of a cook and prefer to stay out of the kitchen unless I'm baking! :rolleyes:

bumbershoot
05-27-2010, 09:13 PM
I had been attempting to track our grocery spending for ages. It never really worked for whatever purpose I vaguely had in mind, but when I found DR it was very helpful to set a start-point for the grocery budget.

There are only three of us here, no pets, but we eat organic, attempt to eat whole foods, but end up with organic/natural snack type things because I'm just not energetic enough to cook from absolute scratch all the time. Our grocery budget is *high*.

So I started off at the highest I'd seen, and we've whittled that down. Not to the point of pain, but to where we're generally hitting zero at the end. Though honestly this last month went so well despite some big differences that I think I can knock it down by another 50 and we won't feel it (yay).

I started off high and went low because I felt that would be better than having to take money from elsewhere, if I'd underestimated.

Along with figuring out where to start with groceries, I found the absolutes, the things that are paid every month and can't NOT be paid. We did not need to knock down cable, etc, and it sounds like you don't have to do that either...so our "absolutes" are higher than some others using DR (by the way, have you checked out llnoe.com? that's livinglikenooneelse.com, a message board for people who use DR's plan)...but we still needed to know them. So I worked that out, then the grocery, I set a small (compared to what we'd been spending) "family fun" budget/envelope, then a very small bit of money for each of the grownups in the house. This goes beyond your grocery budget, but...we did stop contributing to the 401k for this time, and that money is part of the "absolutes" that goes to the debt we're working on now (car). Plus another bit of extra money that had been part of an envelope that just didn't work out (we had "sinking fund" envelopes for things like clothing, but we realized that we like to just "cashflow" those things when needed, since we send what's left at the end of the month towards the next month's car payment instead of hitting zero at the beginning of the month). So those bits of money are sent to the car, along with the leftover at the end of the last month (this works for US, at this point in our lives, but isn't recommended b/c probably it doesn't work for most just like it woudln't have worked for us a year ago!)

Anyway, that's what we've done. Having the grocery budget has been so great for us. Especially since we get a monthly paycheck. If we got two paychecks we'd have to change the way we do things, but this way works out really well for us. It was a bummer at the end of April when we were at bare bones in the grocery envelope, and I came across a huge quantity of Prego Organic spaghetti sauce (our absolute favorite, it's SO good, and none of the normal stores are carrying it anymore) at Grocery Outlet, and could only buy two.....wahhhhhh! But then again, we just don't have the room for 20 jars of it. :upsidedow

rszdtrvl
05-28-2010, 08:02 AM
I used the budget planning gazelle thing that keepmoving4ward recommended (thank you!) and worked out a budget yesterday.

We are a one income family, as I am a SAHM. I have teetered with getting a job - have even had jobs in the past - but it turns out we are all happier with me being home, and if we can swing it - even pinching pennies - then it is worth it.

The gazelle thing worked great. I poured over our monthly bills for a while yesterday and came up with a working amount for us. It was hard budgeting down to zero. In the end, there was an extra $23 that was unaccounted for. But I think I did okay.

DH gets a ton of overtime in the fall, and his paychecks are easily $400 more than normal. That will be great, as we can work that much quicker paying off the credit card, we can pay cash for Christmas gifts, and we can save up a bit for our trip to Las Vegas (we are going there for our 15th Anniversary in January).

I am happy, excited, and optimistic. I think it will work! Can't wait to get the book in the mail!

keepmoving4ward
05-28-2010, 12:49 PM
No prob :thumbsup2 ! I love that thing, lots of fun and easy to use.

oh yah, and we went to the GWL in January. It was a BLAST! My youngest liked it more than DW!