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Old 10-29-09, 01:21 PM   #1
SonataInFSharp
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How Much do You Spend On...

For those willing to share, how much money do you spend on food and household items each month? And how many people is that for? A family of 4? Just yourself and a cat?

My wife and I have kept track of our spending for over four years now. If you were to look at our budget, you would think we were annoyingly frugal, cheap turds that don't know how to enjoy life. But, you would also see that our money spent on food (not eating out) and household items is out of control. We spend around $800-1200 a month for groceries and household items.

I feel like this is absolutely absurd, but when we review our receipts line by line, everything we buy seems completely necessary or mostly necessary, without any luxuries or nonsense items.

I have talked with friends and some family, and most people are spending about as much as we do on this stuff, but I have one friend who claims she only spends $150 on groceries and household items per month for two adults and an 8-month old.

Our spending is for two adults and a 15-month old. We don't eat super well, but we eat healthy foods, no boxed dinners, we eat a lot of produce, we never eat out, and my wife does a lot of work from home so she eats all of her meals at home, as does the baby. The household items are necessary, such as toilet paper, napkins, soap, laundry detergent, etc, so nothing too odd there. We buy things on sale if we have a choice, and we stock up when we can. We consume everything and waste nothing between trips.

The only thing I can think of is that we over-consume things. For example, my wife seems to go through an entire roll of paper towels every day or two, whereas if I am alone for stretches of time, a roll of paper towels lasts me over a week or more. Same with food--if we buy one container of ice cream or 3 containers, it lasts the same amount of time, no matter how much we buy. So maybe if we simply don't buy something, we won't use it and therefore won't spend money on it? I don't know!

So, what does everyone else do/spend? $1200 a month for this part of the budget seems ridiculous to me. Heck, when I was a single guy (albeit nearly 6 years ago), I spent under $100 for food and household items per month, plus $60 per month eating out. So how do I go from $160 per month as a single guy to $1200 a month with a family of three????
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Old 10-29-09, 01:24 PM   #2
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Me, my wife, 2 dogs, 2 cats.

$500-600 on groceries.
$100 misc. household needs beyond groceries.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:38 PM   #3
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sounds like you're plowing through paper towels? watch those and your other consumables. Do you have a kitchen rag? I have 2 sponges (dishes; countertops/appliances) and 2 rags. Rags get washed when they're nasty and sponges go through the chain of life: new, dishes, countertops, bathroom, then trash.

cost for food is highly variable. Do you eat leftovers or toss them? do you make enough to have leftovers?
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Old 10-29-09, 01:47 PM   #4
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For just myself, probably about $30 a week for food including eating out, maybe another $10 per week for other consumables.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:47 PM   #5
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Do you eat leftovers or toss them? do you make enough to have leftovers?
Very good point. I've known people in the past who refuse to eat leftovers. I thrive on leftovers.....knowing its a money saver. I almost always have leftovers for lunch at work, and rarely eat out for lunch.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:47 PM   #6
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I spent $200-$300 on groceries for my son who stays with me half the time and myself.
My brother buy his own stuff.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:49 PM   #7
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I spend $60-90 a week on food for two adults. Granted, Mr Coffeecake eats as much as three normal adults, so I have to stuff him full of pasta and oatmeal. We make our own bread with a breadmaker. I rarely use paper towels; we have several rags and microfibre cloths instead. We use about half of the recommended amount for laundry soap and haven't noticed any difference in the clothes. I could probably cut this amount by a third by not buying specialty items like pomegranates or chocolate milk.

We're still accumulating household items, so our other expenses are quite erratic. (random furniture, and bike expenses, of course.) I think we spend on average about 1600 a month for rent, utils, food, and misc. stuff. I don't keep a tight budget; I just watch what I buy and sock away 15% of my income per month.

My mom would drop about $200 per week on food for five kids. This was about ten years ago though and you have to factor in inflation and such. So yeah, I think you're being a little excessive, but without an itemized list I couldn't tell you on what.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:56 PM   #8
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2 adults, 1 dog.

Around $400/mo. on groceries. We visit MacPherson's produce stand where for $40 - $50/week we get what would cost 3 times that amount at our local big chain grocery store. Plus they have a kickass taco truck in the parking lot. For most other things we go to a lesser known chain store called H-Mart. We end up spending less than half of what we used to at QFC/Safeway, etc.

Household products are a minimal expense. A $200 Costco trip maybe every 3 - 4 months keeps us well stocked on cleaning products and the like.
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Old 10-29-09, 02:03 PM   #9
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2 adults, 8yo, 6yo - $500/mo for groceries. Lots of produce (plus several cans beans/corn), meat, occasional frozen dinner (lasagna/pizza), plenty of yogurt, TONS of snacks (during/after school) and enough goods for three lunches a week for the kids. This also includes basic paper/plastic goods and basic household supplies (detergent, soap, shampoo, laundry etc).

We probably spend another $100/week on eating out - lunches for the wife during the week and a $35 family meal on the weekend. That's $900 a month right there, and I'm probably still 10% underestimating. Factor in the occasional "bulk purchase" visit to a big box store and we probably average pretty close to the OP's $1200/month for "the basics". Scary, but necessary.

We could save quite a bit of money by clipping coupons or never eating out - but what's the fun in that? Quality of life and priorities eventually come into play. We scrimp on some things (no car payments, for example) to be able to enjoy day to day life.
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Old 10-29-09, 02:59 PM   #10
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Where is this "MacPherson's produce stand"?? I'd like to check it out dude.

And what the heck is H-Mart? It must be lesser known...I live in this area same as you and never heard of it.

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2 adults, 1 dog.

Around $400/mo. on groceries. We visit MacPherson's produce stand where for $40 - $50/week we get what would cost 3 times that amount at our local big chain grocery store. Plus they have a kickass taco truck in the parking lot. For most other things we go to a lesser known chain store called H-Mart. We end up spending less than half of what we used to at QFC/Safeway, etc.

Household products are a minimal expense. A $200 Costco trip maybe every 3 - 4 months keeps us well stocked on cleaning products and the like.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:02 PM   #11
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Me, my wife, 2 dogs, 2 cats.
same as you, minus two dogs...

the cats have better health care and eat better than i do...

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Old 10-29-09, 03:06 PM   #12
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I spend about $200 a month just on the dogs (mastiff and lab), they eat a lot. Another $800 or so for the other 4 of us. The cat is cheap.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:16 PM   #13
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the cats have better health care and eat better than i do...

After seeing those homemade smoked peppers, I call BS on that!
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Old 10-29-09, 03:17 PM   #14
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Where is this "MacPherson's produce stand"?? I'd like to check it out dude.

And what the heck is H-Mart? It must be lesser known...I live in this area same as you and never heard of it.
this place? Mac Pherson's Fruit & Produce
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Old 10-29-09, 03:24 PM   #15
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Yeah....that probably is the place he's talking about. Seems a bit "out of the way" from where Jason and I live to go for produce though.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:26 PM   #16
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Yeah....that probably is the place he's talking about. Seems a bit "out of the way" from where Jason and I live to go for produce though.
It does get great reviews on Yelp though.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:33 PM   #17
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I help my mom with a lot of the grocery shopping and for a family of 7, we spend.........eh......about $400 every 3 weeks on groceries.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:35 PM   #18
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Sales on non-perishables can be the best investment available to you (bear with me).

I can buy items 2 for 1 at Publix, which ends up costing less than Walmart, by a decent margin. Say paper towels are 3.99, but 2 for 1 means 2.00, vs. 3.79 at Walmart, so you save 1.79 each. Stock up and buy a few month's worth, say 20 packs for 40.00, saving 35.80.

Now, let's say that can last you 4 months. How much did you invest? It can be complex, if you figure the timing of every input and output of cash and the rate implied, but I'll simplify it.

You laid out about 37.00 for 19 "extra" packs. For your "investment", you avoided spending 3.79x19=72.01 over the next 4 months. You roughly double your money every 4 months!

So, this is one way you could address the problem. If you will use the items, and they can't spoil, then you can't lose. I hope it works for you.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:38 PM   #19
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I can buy items 2 for 1 at Publix,
I haven't heard anybody mention Publix in ages. One of my first jobs as a kid was a bag boy at Publix in Brooksville (redneckville), Florida.

Now I live in the Seattle area; no Publix out here.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:43 PM   #20
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I've been to Brooksville, to play disc golf at an old rock quarry--a private course, sadly gone now, but one of the best ever.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:45 PM   #21
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I've been to Brooksville, to play disc golf at an old rock quarry--a private course, sadly gone now, but one of the best ever.
Never knew they put in a disc golf there......that was one of our "drinking" areas when I was a teen. My dad, brother and grandma still live in Brooksville.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:48 PM   #22
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700 per month, family of three. Includes normal lunch/breakfast/snacks at work. My wife eats a LOT less than me but those dm cookies are so tasty.
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Old 10-29-09, 05:56 PM   #23
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I don't keep close track, but I spend somewhere around $15-20 a week on groceries, for just me.
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Old 10-29-09, 11:05 PM   #24
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Yeah....that probably is the place he's talking about. Seems a bit "out of the way" from where Jason and I live to go for produce though.
It's a bit of a haul, but worth the trip and we combine it with other errands on the west side of the lake.

H-Mart is up by Alderwood Mall, where Mervyn's used to be.
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Old 10-29-09, 11:36 PM   #25
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it was about $350 a month i think. i eat very healthy. and a lot.
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