So how much do you spend weekly.. and what do you include in that budget? ie. we include everything... including eating out, diapers, light bulbs. We call it our household budget. It's high... so I'm also looking for your great tips on this thread to cut back. I make a menu.. and a shopping list.
07-03-2006, 02:02 PM
We spend $180/week for a family of 4 - again that includes everything. I need help!!! I wonder what the average american family of 4 spends?
07-03-2006, 02:46 PM
I've just done a quick currency conversion, and mine seems to come out at $70 for 1. Oops... In my defence, that involves everything including alcohol and household stuff, and I don't try to cut back on quality ingredients really, I try to make my eating as decadent and indulgent as I can within my nutritional framework. And I do have lots of stuff frozen for weeks when I need to spend a bit less. I also don't know how much it would cost to buy the same stuff in the US.
07-03-2006, 04:53 PM
There are five of us and our household budget (if you can call it that!) is all over the board. I'll get on a money saving kick every now and then and can feed all of us and buy all of the household items we need for $70-$75. But, it takes a LOT of planning - going through every sale paper, price matching at WalMart, using lots of homemade concontion for cleaning (which, btw, I like to do better than commercial cleaners anyway), and making use of every single item I already have in the pantry. Other weeks I'll spend $400 or more. In that instance I'm either stocking up on some really good sale items, preparing to make ahead and freeze several week's worth of food, or it is one of those trips that I'm out of everything - condiments, flour, sugar, all the basic stuff as well as what I need for the week. On average, though, I would guess that I probably spend $200-$250 each week (that is without being overly cautious of our budget).
One of the best budgeting tips I know is to look at the things you are willing to compromise on. For instance, I'll buy cheap paper towels and paper napkins but I'm not skimping when it comes to toilet paper! LOL. But, if I'm really trying to save money I skip most paper products all together. It is much cheaper to wash a plate than it is to throw away a paper one. Also, unless they were used for meat, I'll wash and reuse zip lock bags. Vinegar makes a great all purpose cleaner, as does baking soda. Simple green is another great AP cleaner that is much cheaper than most commercial cleaning products. Also, personal care items used to run up my bill. I am particular about shampoos/conditioner but I've found if I use my salon products just once a week and a cheaper brand the rest of the time I get about the same results. I don't mind buying cheap toothpaste (Ultrabrite with baking soda is only .88 compared to almost $3 for the arm and hammer brand).
As for food, don't be afraid to try the store brands. I had always been very brand loyal but I found that the store brands are usually just as good, if not better. They aren't always cheaper, though, so you have to really price compare. To make price comparisons easier I keep a price log of how much I paid for particular items in any given week. This way I know whether or not an advertised price is actually a good deal (or if I shop at Sams I know if it is worth buying there or waiting for the next sale). After about 2 months I could see the sale rotation of the different stores. Talk to the manager at each department too. They can tell you on what day they mark down their almost expired items. If you can get to the store early that day, you can get some great deals. When I buy chicken I buy regular split breasts and debone and skin them myself. Not only is it much cheaper but the quality and size is much better than if you buy the already cleaned breasts. Plus, you get the tenderloin too which is great for making your own chicken strips for the kids. Also, whole chickens often go on sale here for .49 a pound. I buy several and have the meat department cut a few of them up for me. I refuse to buy juice boxes, or kid themed yogurt, fruit roll ups, etc - even during the school year.
This seems so obvious, but I never used to do it. When I plan my menus besides considering what is on sale I try to coordinate our meals. So, if we are going to have Chicken Cordon Blue one night we might have quiche on another night, and Rueben sandwiches later on - so that I make use of the swiss cheese I had to buy for the chicken. You can plan very different meals that use some of the same ingredients to cut back on the overall number of items you have to buy.
I do look for the highest quality produce I can find but try and buy the sale items. I've come to buy produce a few times a week because I'd rather make a quick trip to the store for more bananas than throw rotten ones away at the end of the week. I make my own salad mixes which is much cheaper than buying the bagged salad. One great thing cropping up around here (I'm in the South) is "pick your own farms". I've saved a lot of money picking our own blueberries, corn, etc. and the kids have a great time. It is free entertainment for them so I am killing two birds with one stone. I also plant a small garden in the spring and so don't have to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, etc. during the summer and early fall.
Also, I make a lot of stuff from scratch - all of our baked goods (except for sandwich bread or hamburger/hot dog buns), pizza crust and sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. I can't remember the last time I bought a package of cookies for the kids or muffin, bisciut, or pancake mix.
Finally, take a couple of reciepts from past weeks and really look them over. When I do this I can see sooooo many things that I didn't really NEED to buy. Even if we ate/used them and they didn't go to waste it still boiled down to want vs. need.
07-03-2006, 05:34 PM
We easily spend 120 for 2 people per week here. First, we live in California, and that usually translates to higher costs (quite a shock after living in Nebraska). Second, I tend to buy a lot of fresh vegetables and better cuts of meat, which tends to up the bill quickly. But then, after so many years of eating out for 60-70% of our meals, we're actually spending less on food now then we did before.
I figure we don't smoke, we don't buy make-up, and only buy new clothes once every other year or so... other than a TON of books (I'm thinking about having us declared a library annex) we really don't spend a lot of money on other incidentals.
That being said, I'm looking forward to getting out of this expensive state and going to... well, we don't know where we'll be going to, but I know it's going to be cheaper than here! :)
07-04-2006, 09:27 PM
When my hubby and I first started living together in 2001, we were so poor that we could only spend $25 per week on groceries for the two of us (and household items!). I made all of our meals... I had never really cooked before. It was quite a learning experience. We lived off of tap water and kool-ade. Anything generic we could buy we did. I always went with a calculator, planned meals, and a list.
Now, before Optifast, We were spending about $60 - 80 per week on food and household items. I bought alot of convenience items because I commute to school and am not home to cook lunch, or sometimes supper (or just flat out don't have time). Convenience food is very pricey. Now that I am not eating, we are still spending just under $60 per week... and that is because I buy convenience foods for the hubby...and I feel so bad about it. He eats lunchables and gets upset when I suggest doing something cheaper to take for lunch (he feels entitled, he worked his way up to lunchables LOL); I buy easy to prepare suppers because if he cooks, he will make a mess in the kitchen and leave it for me to clean up. I'm not eating, so I'm not cleaning up any cooking messes in the kitchen... its only fair LOL I think we could cut our grocery bill if I bought meat and veggies for him to cook instead of convenience foods. I don't skimp on the household items, I have figured out what is a true value, and what is just high priced junk. I will not use any paper towels besides Bounty.... none compare, but I only go through maybe 1 1/2 big rolls a month. Or dishwasher detergent, Cascade Complete - expensive, but its the only one that gets my dishes clean. I do like to buy in bulk, and I will do so with meats and such when I start eating again - we have a small deep freeze and bought it to buy meat in bulk, then we never did LOL.
07-04-2006, 10:38 PM
My husband and I have set a $200 per month budget, including dining out. We mostly shop at Aldi's (an international discount grocery chain), Big Lots, local closeout store (like Big Lots, but privately owned), Walmart, local county markets, a bulk baking supply store, and a local asian grocery. If we had a large freezer, we would also use the local Butternut Bread thrift bakery (my father delivered for the company, and I learned that if you know what day the thrift store is stocked, it is fresher than in the stores). I also bake bread using a bread maker - I use the maker to mix the dough, but bake it in the oven. Almost as easy, and makes a better crust, especially if sprayed top and bottom with butter flavored cooking spray.
We don't go to every store every week, but we pay attention to what is routinely cheaper. Buying canned goods and dry packaged goods from "cheapy" sources takes a little getting used to, because you have to be open to "opportunities," rather than being set on a particular item or brand.
Asian stores are really cheap for bean sprouts and cilantro, and are fun for experimenting with exotic foods. Aldi soups (at least the tomato and cream of mushroom) are better than Campbell's, but their produce is limited and expensive - and inconsitent in quality. Farmer's markets are great when they're available, and often the farmers will haggle or give a better price for a larger quantity.
Shopping in multiple stores isn't for everyone, but my husband and I both like shopping, and cooking, so we incorporate shopping into a weekend afternoon, "out and about."
07-04-2006, 11:18 PM
Mine is WAAAYYYY over $120 a week. more like $220 sometimes around $175. With a very hungry DH and a teenage boy nearly constantly eating, I do well to keep up the cooking of healthy meals. Then there's the baby's formula...OUCH! $24 a can. ROBBERY!! Sam's club and Walmart help though. I go shopping about 3x weekly to keep everything fresh. Eating out is very minimal now. They don't wanna go with out me! Awwww....
07-05-2006, 09:53 AM
Since we do 2 groceries in one.
DH hates whole weat bread, so we buy 1 loaf of white and 1 of whole weat. Same for milk, 1 skim, 1 whole, ect, ect, ect....DH hates health food but lives on junk, so for me to lose , I have no choice but to do 2 groceries in 1.
add to that all the fresh fruits and veges, and the dog's food (got a german shepperd, so he eats tons...like a teenager) you get a crazy expensive grocery list.
We spend around $180 to $230 a week. We could reduce it by so much if he would just eat healthy foods.
07-05-2006, 04:00 PM
I prolly spend around $100 a week for 2 adults- not including going out. CA is expensive...ya gotta pay for the sunshine.... :D
I buy a lot of fresh veggies (including bagged lettuce) - and I'm lazy about stuff like buying cheaper cuts of chicken and deboning myself....but this amount also includes paper products and cleaning supplies.
07-05-2006, 10:43 PM
Average is $100/week for 2 adults and 2 toddlers...very little processed foods...lots of fruit, milk, veggies, yogurt, meat, cheese. I do look at the weekly ads and shop at 3 near-by stores a week to get the deals. I buy lots of "supplies" bulk from a local co-op - oats, flour, some spices, sugar - it's very cheap, but you have to have the place to store it since it's often in Costco sized amounts.
07-06-2006, 08:44 AM
We don't really have a set budget. It's just me and Jeff (my boyfriend), so no kids or pets or anything, and I can spend anywhere from $50 to over $100 a week, depending on what we need. Sometimes I stock up on chicken ($4.99 a pound--I only buy 99% fat free boneless skinless chicken breast), and that hikes up the bill a bit. Lately I've been buying about 2 pounds of fresh strawberries each week at $2.99 a pound (once in a blue moon, they're 2 for $5, but more likely 2 for $5.99). I flat out refuse to buy Jeff food that is different from mine--there is just no need. He doesn't cook, so he will eat what I make or else buy himself some Hot Pockets :p I do buy him regular soda as opposed to the Coke Zero I buy for myself and sometimes white bread sandwich rolls if he's on a kick with bringing his lunches to work, but that's it. Other than that, it's strictly chicken, black beans, whole-grain pastas and breads, turkey sausage, low-sodium bacon, "deli thin" sliced cheese (only 55 calories a slice ;) ), lean sandwich meats, skim milk...I didn't need much this week, but when I stopped at the store yesterday for "a few quick things," I ended up spending a little over $50 :dizzy: It's all the little things that just add up...
Oh, and I agree with andoreth--I just plain live in a pretty expensive area :devil: Oh, and I DEFINITELY agree with Gina--I'm way too lazy to try to butcher up boned, fatty meat myself, so I pay the extra for the already good stuff.
07-06-2006, 11:47 AM
We usually spend about $180 bi-weekly for groceries, paper products and pet supplies for two adults and one child, as well as three dogs and four cats. I do most of my grocery shopping at Save-A-Lot or the Super Walmart. We have a farmer's market outside my office building every Wednesday, so I can get some nice produce there.
I find that I buy a lot more convenience food than I would like, but I just don't seem to be able to find the time to cook from scratch. DH and I both work full time and we are homeschooling our daughter. Doesn't leave tons of free time...
07-06-2006, 04:34 PM
We spend about $150 every two weeks. That includes all household necessities and baby stuff. I spend an additional $50 on an off week for things needed in between the big grocery trip. So lets see I guess on average we spend about a little over $100 per week give or take. I've been trying to purchase the diapers and formula in bulk. Carson will be 1 year old soon so bye bye formula! That stuff rocks the budget BIG TIME! We finally most recently, switched to an off brand which saves us about 1/2 the cost but the baby food adds up although we're gradually switching him over to table food. We buy our meats in bulk so whenever and wherever the sale is, we go and load up. Same with soda or anything else we use pretty often (toilet paper etc.) We only go out for dinner occasionally so I don't count that-- I guess we order in sometimes. I guess maybe I should look at my budget... seems like we're over spending! Its interesting to see all the responses. Is it me or are groceries along with gas prices etc, getting higher?
Geesh, I'll need a second job soon just to keep up with it all! :)
07-06-2006, 07:37 PM
I would say I spend about $100 a week on me, a teenager, and 2 kids, but it might be more once you average it out because some weeks I spend more. It's hard to tell because lots of times I shop at Walmart and buy kids clothes or gifts or other things while I'm there that aren't really part of the household budget.
07-06-2006, 07:40 PM
Is it me or are groceries along with gas prices etc, getting higher?
Geesh, I'll need a second job soon just to keep up with it all! :)
first of all... I can't believe Carson is almost one!! - I remember when you got pregnant!! It's great to see you here.
Don't get me started on gas prices...OUCH... :( $3.09 here in Green Bay today ...
07-06-2006, 08:00 PM
Ya know what? I'm among those who don't really know. I've spent about 20-30 dollars 3 times in the last 6 days (laundry soap, shampoo and toilet paper). But I still have some of a meat package I won in a draw and DH and the boys (who are home for the summer) are buying lunches at work.
I also buy the sales so those weeks are much more. I have gone to a store and spent $120.00. Sixty of which was boneless skinless chicken breasts. There are few things that I buy no matter what. It's ouchy to spend $2.89 for fat free cottage cheese when the total amount allowable this time is $20.00 :)
We have in the past bought organic beef from a neighbour, with our tax returns. That was fabulous and really kept the weekly rate down.