Budget, budget, budget. Yes, we have all heard the word and are quite familiar with it. It is something we deal with week to week, month to month. For those of us who have been used to a budget and are pretty good at keeping track of things, this question is for you: Have you become complacent with your budget? Are you no longer reviewing the status quo to see where your money goes?
Chances are, if you are like us, you would say yes. Once you get over the hurdle of getting into a budget groove and saving monthly, it is easy to just check if you are still making status quo and move on with little question or discussion. Well, it is time for a wake up call. We had ours this month when it came to our grocery budget.
A couple months ago I posted about the grocery challenge we were doing at our house. Basically, we were going to limit our grocery shopping to fruit and dairy so that we could eat up what we had in our cupboards, freezer, and garden. Well, we did it and we did it well. We were constantly inventing dishes out of what we had in the pantry and freezer and we did limit our trips to the grocery store…or so I thought. Despite eating out of the cupboards, when I checked our grocery budget for the month in Quicken, we had still spent over $300 on food. I was gob smacked. I couldn’t figure out where our money was going. Even if I took out the berry picking purchases (we usually stock for winter) and the couple one off’s we had still spent a significant amount of money on groceries. With this evidence we decided to come up with a plan.
We are now tracking not just how much we spend on groceries but also what kind of groceries they were: healthy or unhealthy. Every time we enter a grocery purchase in Quicken we categorize the amounts. This is a very interesting process. We have only been doing it for a month or so and so far it has been educational to say the least. We thankfully are spending 75%+ of our money on healthy groceries. Whew!! But there still is that 20%+ that we are spending on unhealthy stuff. This is where we are going to do some work. We aren’t going to stop living or enjoying certain things but we are going to limit the frequency. We are both quite healthy and active as well as healthy eaters but based on this report, we could buy less “treats”. This exercise should not only help with our budget but it should also help keep our health in check. Once we have done this for a couple more months I will be able to report more findings.
If you would like to try this, here is a sample list of the category breakdowns to get you started:
- Healthy: fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt, eggs, legumes, plain popcorn seeds, natural peanut butter, etc.
- Unhealthy: tortilla chips, frozen yogurt, Coke zero, chips, etc.
If you would like to give this a try, I encourage you to do it. I hope it will help you as much as it has been helping us.
Have you looked at your grocery budget lately? What have you found?