Sunday, April 29, 2012

Five hundred sixty. - UPDATE!

5-6-0. That's how much money we spent on groceries and household supplies last month. A big trip to SAMs (which included toilet paper, paper towels, and meat), a couple of $60 trips to Wal-Mart and lots of little runs to Publix landed us $40 shy of doubling our grocery budget.

Groceries and household supplies are my weakness. I am pretty iron-clad about most facets of our budget, but this is one area where I feel like we have a license to spend. We need toothpaste, we need toilet paper, we need food to eat. 

But $560 for two people is absurd. Absolutely absurd. Part of the problem is our budget spreadsheet. I do the numbers around here and I'm usually very good about knowing exactly where our money is going. But, I don't really like the spreadsheet I downloaded and I haven't found one that I really like. I want one that is more detailed... almost like a checkbook register, where I can enter every purchase rather than lumping everything into one cell. I don't know how to explain that! 

I do not want to coupon, so please no one comment about couponing! I've been there/done that and honestly found that despite the fact that I was spending less, I was wasting more - which is a bigger problem to me. 

So the next month is going to be pantry-raid month... trying to figure out meals I can make with the random items we have. And I'm sticking to the grocery/supplies budget and we're not eating out. 

But I am curious what other people use for budgeting... like I said, most other areas are well-accounted for. I keep up with it in my head how much we've spent in what areas. But I was SHOCKED when I actually added up this area and I feel like I have wasted money we could have saved!!! 

So, what do you do? I know in many families, the man does the money. Blake will probably handle ours one day but right now his work is more demanding than mine plus I really like doing the budget. But, I need help!

Update 5/1/12: Wow! I should write more about budgeting because I got a lot of response here and on facebook to this post. I like all the ideas I heard, but I have to say the Mint website is pretty sweet. One of the biggest challenges in budgeting for two is making the numbers accessible to both of us. Mint is accessible through both a computer and our phones. So, I think we're going to go that route for a while and see if it helps us keep better track of money spent on groceries.

Speaking of groceries, there were a lot of ideas about shopping! I usually make one "large" trip to Wal-Mart, usually towards the beginning of the month. As much as I honestly hate shopping at Wal-Mart, their prices really can't be beat (and as I said above, I don't want to coupon! Not interested!). Then as the month goes on, we make small trips to Publix for produce and other little items. What I haven't been doing much of this spring is menu planning. I planned better in the winter, which helped cut down our spending on groceries... so today I made a 2-week menu and I'll only buy what we need for those recipes. We're going to try to stay under $300 if not $250 this month! I hope we can do it!


  1. The cash envelope system worked for us. Once it's gone it's gone.

  2. Someone told me about the Mint website which is kind-of like an electronic envelope system! I am really excited about starting to use it this week!

  3. I pay for our groceries with my credit card because I can go online and see when and how much I spent - it means I don't have to keep up with receipts! (I also get cash back rewards, which goes towards paying off the bill). Every week or so I update an excel spreadsheet and highlight groceries in green, gas in blue, etc which helps me keep track on a month-to-month basis. Simple works best for me, but you may want something more detailed.

    I also try to only do one big grocery shopping trip a month - usually whenever meat is on sale. I pick up fresh fruit, milk, and any other tidbits as we need them throughout the month, but try not to go to the store more than once a week.

    Watch which stores you're shopping at. I like Kroger (but there aren't any in Tuscaloosa...) because they have better prices and more store-brand stuff that I can buy...maybe they're like Bruno's? Publix is good for the BOGO deals but seems to be more expensive overall. That's a lot of info, but I hope it helps!

  4. Robyn - our "plan" was to buy groceries and gas with our credit cards... but that hasn't happened yet! Maybe we'll start doing that this month. So far, we've just put big expenses on it and paid it off the following month... not sure how well that is helping our credit, which was the reason for getting the credit card!

  5. Actually, unless you are buying store brand, Target prices are almost exactly the same as Walmart. I MUCH prefer shopping at Target.

    I haven't been doing a ton of couponing lately, but something that has helped us is simply buying less and actually using all of what we buy. This has meant putting a little more effort into meal planning. Lately I've been doing more shopping at the farmers market; buying fresh produce and meats means I have to use it quickly (or freeze the meats) or lose it.

    Another thing is ALWAYS sticking to a list when you go to the store and not going on unnecessary trips. If you can wait a few more days to combine trips, then make yourself wait.

  6. Misty, I have been wanting to go to the new farmer's market! When is it open? I usually hit up Publix for fresh produce but I'd love to get some locally grown stuff, too.

    This sounds weird, but I often forget about Target! I don't know why... and it's more convenient to where we live. I think the problem with Target for me is that sometimes I get TOO excited about shopping there & end up with stuff I didn't plan for (hence the need for a list).

  7. The Tuscaloosa farmers market is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. until noon, I believe. There's also the one on campus on Thursday afternoons; some of the same people sell at it.

    We also buy beef, pork and eggs at the farmers market. They are more expensive, but, particularly when it's ground sausage or beef, I can incorporate it into a dish and use less than I might normally because the flavor is so good. For example, I paid $7.75 for a package of ground sausage last time I went, but I easily got three meals out of it and could have stretched it to four with no problem (we had sausage and veggie pizza twice, and pasta once ... and it tastes like the sausage on DePalma's pizzas!).