It’s time for the latest installment of my yearlong quest to track and trim my food budget. For those of you short on time, let me just say that if you remember my numbers from last month, they were very similar in August. Shockingly similar, in fact. I think we’ve possibly hit what I’m calling The Plateau. It’s not a bad place to hang out, this new baseline, but it is a bit short of the lofty goals I initially set out for myself, so there is work to be done.
There are some changes coming starting next month that will take a little pressure off our overall budgets (more on that in another post), so vigilance against lifestyle creep is more important than ever. Keeping this budget low was never about penny-pinching and always about exploring how to actually cook and love the food I eat, which just so happens to cost less than it does to be lazy on food consumption anyway. It’s no coincidence that the months our costs were lowest are also the months where I felt I invested the most time/energy in cooking. As time becomes scarcer, I need to remind myself why I continue to work on this – because it’s fun, not to mention the fact that it helps pave the way to financial independence.
Anyway – onto the numbers.
Standard disclaimer: While I appreciate that some other bloggers share exact numbers in their budgets, I’ve made the decision to obscure my numbers a bit. As I have done in previous months, numbers will given as percentages compared to our 2014 averages. I’ll recap the previous month’s numbers for some context:
- Groceries: 89% [56% of total]
- Restaurants (includes work-lunches): 112% [37% of total]
- Coffeeshops: 47% [7% of total]
- Alcohol: 0% [0% of total]
- Total Cost: 89%
July was an ok month – right in line with roughly where I’ve been for the last few months. It sneaks in a bit under 2014’s numbers, and had its share of one-off expenses, but nothing too exceptional to report.
Get ready for some very similar numbers.
- Groceries: 89% [57% of total]
- Restaurants (includes work-lunches): 112% [38% of total]
- Coffeeshops: 37% [5% of total]
- Alcohol: 0% [0% of total]
- Total Cost: 87%
Charting the numbers since February
What it Means and How it Happened
Technically, this is an improvement on last month and the lowest total since April, but for all intents and purposes it was the same. As I wrote about above, I’m mindful of settling onto a Plateau that’s higher than it has to be. However, there are a few caveats that make me feel better about this month than last month.
In addition to the usual one-offs (brunch with an out-of-town friend, lots of ice cream at the amazing shop nearby), there was also a rather sizable trip to our local wholesaler on 8/31 (Quicken actually claims it posted on 9/1, but I’m calling it an August buy). While much of this was regular shopping stuff like milk and cheese, there was also a fair amount of stocking up going on. If I had done this one day later, our August numbers would have dropped markedly – instead, we’ve held pace and set ourselves up well for a drop in September. Plus, just having gone back to the wholesalers makes me feel better already.
As I said just above, I feel we’re well positioned to have a good September. Then again, as I said even further above, there are some changes coming that are beginning this month. They are good changes, and I’m intentionally spending a little more this month on a few things as a result – but I’ll want to watch the numbers and make sure I don’t get carried away.