Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Rant on Luxuries and Necessities

Well. We crunched the numbers and realized that we were spending too much money. Thus, we decided that since Samuel has allergies, is still wearing diapers, and eats more than his older sister, and thus costs more to maintain, he would be the one to go.

Just kidding.

Actually, we decided to have a budget and stick to it. We figured that was a more permanent solution to our predicament than getting rid of one of the kids.

Here's what we did. You have to budget for things that only happen once or twice a year, so if you are going to have to register your cars for $350 once a year, then you have to put away 1/12th of that ($30)every month, same with clothing, car maintenance, etc. So then we totaled up our monthly expenses for our tithing, mortgage, household expenses, insurance, utilities, car maintenance, entertainment, personal spending, clothing, etc, and whatever was left would be our grocery budget. Oh, yeah, and that's while paying down those credit cards and trying to put a little away in savings while we're at it!

Well folks, magic number is $290/month. Does it sound that hard to feed a family of four on $290/month? It doesn't sound that bad. But looking over our expenses for 2010 thus far, we had been spending and average of $600/month on groceries. So, does it sound so hard to cut your food budget in half? Yes! That is a major change of lifestyle for us. I guess we just like to eat.

But what are necessities? Is dishwasher soap a necessity for people of my generation? Or do we have the patience to wash dishes by hand if need be? Do you have the determination to make powdered milk and homemade bread? What do you break your budget for that you absolutely cannot live without?

I'll answer that. Dish soap, homemade bread, powdered milk I can handle. But I've already learned that diapers must be in the budget because I cannot live without those (I mean, I can't live with Samuel without those, and we've already decided to keep him.) And WiFi. I don't think I can live without that. What about you?

So here we are. Buying potatoes because they are dirt cheap, foregoing the $2.50 box of fruit snacks because that's a lot for processed sugar(!), finding ways to put zucchini in everything because they keep appearing in my backyard garden (okay, I know I planted them there, but there are just so many...), and the list goes on. I find myself keeping track of how much money I have left while I'm grocery shopping, and I'm asking myself, do I want to spent $4 on a can of french fried onions, or do I want to buy toilet paper?

To live on $290 a month, we absolutely had to make a dinner menu. I got the basic breakfast foods and lunchy type things, but planning out our dinners and getting only those ingredients made a huge difference on how much I spent at the grocery store. Plus, I am more organized each night at dinner time because I know what I'm making, and we have lots of leftovers (hence, I also planned a leftovers night!) My latest victory is that I finally mustered up the guts to price match at Walmart and probably saved $15 on 2-week's menu. Way to go me!

So, that's what's been on my mind lately. End of rant.


Rebecca said...

I've been pondering the dish soap thing. I think I'd use way MORE if I washed dishes by hand than if I used the dishwasher. But yeah, we could do better on filling the dishwasher and/or not dirtying so many dishes.

The only snacky things we buy are goldfish, graham crackers, and ritz. No fruit snacks or cookies, etc. Our budget killer is always the fresh produce and dairy of all kinds (which I LOVE).

I'm glad you decided to keep Samuel. He's a cute kid. :)

Jessica Munk said...

Thanks for sharing, I needed to hear this! We are trying to do the same with our grocery budget and its real hard! I need to ask myself would I rather question when I'm in the store.

Ellen Sorenson said...

It helps a lot to go to the store with cash in your purse instead of a credit card. For some reason, cash is a lot harder to spend.

Lisa M said...

I've been couponing....seriously couponing. I've saved a ton of money. My who has been doing it longer than me, has cut her food/household budget to $300/month and her goal is $250. It's fun too, it's so fulfulling to spend $20 on $60 worth of food and household items. If you want more info, FB me or email me.

Megan said...

I realized that I was spending about $160/week on groceries, but we never had anything that amounted to a meal more than a few times a week so I started writing out a menu each week with my new meal planner that I made (which you can totally download for free from my blog). This past week I only spent $75.00 on a weeks worth of groceries for our family.