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It’s the start of 2015 and I do love fresh starts! One of the areas of a fresh start is always in regards to our budget – but especially our grocery budget. I’ve found this is one of the most concrete ways to see savings in your budget. It’s not always easy to cut your grocery budget but it definitely worth the time and effort.
In 2014, I had a monthly budget of $180 for grocery, household supplies and diapers. Yes, that included our food, toilet paper, toiletries and anything else along those lines. I should note that it is only in the last 3 months that Nathan has started eating solids, resulting in a little extra in our budget. Plus, I had a large stockpile of diapers from before Nathan was born so diapers don’t factor in too often – unless there is a really good deal! Here are the totals from the year.
January – $178.85
February – $181.42
March – $157.20
April – $83.57
May – $165.30
June – $176.90
July – $177.36
August – $174.39
September – $179.55
October – $166.02
November – $306.38
December – $203.55
Yearly Total – $2150.49
Monthly Average – $179.21
I ended the year with two of my highest months – ever! Granted, we were hosting Thanksgiving for my family so that contributed to the higher numbers. Still, when all was said and done I was 9 months under budget and 3 months over. Not bad really. April was especially low since I had stocked my freezer before Nathan was born and skipped shopping several weeks to stay home with our newborn. That low month helped balance out the higher ones. I was most pleased to see that even with the high numbers at the end of the year, my lower numbers from early on meant that my yearly average was almost EXACTLY what I had budgeted – $179.21. Wow!
After I looked at the numbers for 2014, I went back and looked at my totals for shopping in the previous years. Yes, I’m a grocery geek like that! Here’s what I found in comparison.
2011 was the first year I kept a public record of my grocery shopping here. I had a $160 monthly budget that year. I spent $1825.25 over the course of the year, which broke down to $152.13 a month.
In 2012, I kept our budget at $160 each month. That year, I spent $1985.55 or an average of $165.46 a month. Prices began creeping up so I decided to raise my budget for the next year.
2013 saw me raising our monthly budget to $180 a month. In 2013, I spent $1848.31 for the year, or an average of $154.03 a month. It’s interesting that I actually spent less this year than the previous year, even with a higher budget.
Now, we’ve finished 2014 and again, I spent $2150.49 for the year with a monthly average of $179.21.
I have been very frugal over the past years but I have decided to raise our monthly budget to $200 for this upcoming year. There are a couple reasons for this.
- Grocery prices – especially meat – continue to rise!
- We now have a family of 3 to feed instead of 2. Nathan doesn’t eat a lot yet but we are trying to feed him fresh and healthy foods.
- I am trying to cook healthier for all of us. I’m not as stringent as some but for example, I have recently begun trying to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from our diet.
- I do not get as many toiletries and paper products free at CVS as I used to.
- I have a good stockpile of diapers but anticipate needing to buy more once Nathan turns one and until he’s potty trained. I’m going to be watching diaper deals vigilantly again.
I know $200 may seem low to some of you. I am aware if that but this is simply what works for us. Don’t feel pressured by my numbers. Many of you have larger families than I do, have different dietary restrictions or live in an area where grocery costs are higher. I am not suggesting that you need to set your grocery budget low like mine. Remember, I have been couponing for many years and have a stockpile of food that helps me fill in our meals on the ecclectic loss leader shopping weeks. (Remember the 10 pounds of butter week?) I am also fortunate to live in an area where dairy prices are still low. I would encourage you to set your grocery budget where you are comfortable and then see how low you can get it throughout the year.
I’m increasing our grocery budget with the hopes that I can stay under it as I did two years ago. Even if I don’t, I know that $200 works in our overall budget. I am determined to keep our budget low. It’s one of the ways I can help us save money as I stay home. Plus, I like grocery shopping and finding the good deals!
So, there you have it. That’s my grocery budget for last year and this next. I will keep posting my weekly shopping trips in pictures because it’s good accountability for me. Did you raise your grocery budget this year? And if you want to share, what do you budget the month in your family? I’m sure others would be interested in knowing – as would I!