I've kept track of my food spending for the last three full years. I started in 2009 but don't have the full year's spending for that year.
Call me anal, that's ok. I'm a bit nerdy when it comes to money stuff.
Here are my numbers. This includes all food spending, as well as toiletries, pet food, all household paper products. It does not include "eating out" monies. And let me tell you.....we can do some bigtime eating out! lol
Keep in mind that these numbers are for a family of 5-3(number of people being fed varied as 2 kids came and went to college)and 2 dogs. It's not more scientific than taking my receipts and writing my totals down every week in a notebook, a year at a time, and then dragging out a calculator and adding it all up.
2011--$3,080.59 Up $788.92 from 2010
2012--$4,196.36 Up $1,115.77 from 2011
I am trying to make sense of these numbers so bear with me.
On the face of it, it appears that I spent increasingly and substantially more each year on food spending.
Between the increasing inflation rate on the cost of food and the decrease in the amount of couponing from one year to the next(I've been on a downward trend with the volume of coupons I use)you could argue that these 2 conditions accounted for the rise in food spending from 2010 to 2012.
Now let's look at my Rebating Totals during these same years.
I use to send away for a fair amount of rebates, both for cash ones and others that gave back gift cards(or prepaid credit cards).
2010--$841.73 rebate checks/ $563.99 gift cards
2011--$433.22 rebate checks/ $76.00 gift cards
2012--$67.48 rebate checks/ $5.00 gift cards
Sometimes the gift cards were used to pay for food and toiletries, sometimes not, so if we just plug in the cash rebates which were all added back into my food kitty, my food "spending" totals after these checks looks like this.....
2011--$3,513.81 Up $380.41
2012--$4,263.84 Up $750.03
After the cash rebates, the increases from year to year in spending are much lower and easily explained away by inflation and the decrease in couponing.
It saddens me though to see how few cash rebates I was able to partake in last year, down from a high in 2010 of $841.73. And most of that $67.48 in cash rebates in 2012 was from Rite-Aid! ;-)
Since the Recession of 2008 I am finding fewer and fewer manufacturer's offering worthwhile rebate offers in my state for products we want/need.
Given this sad state of affairs, if I continue to purchase roughly the same products in 2013, with food inflation and a continued less than stellar crop of coupon deals combined with a stingy few cash rebate offerings, I guesstimate that my Food Spending Totals for 2013 might reach $5,000+.
This increase is even more reason to redouble my efforts to keep our food costs down in any way I can.
Food spending is one of those items that can very quickly get out of hand.
It's something you can't NOT spend on, but what you buy, where and when you buy it and how much you buy can sink your budget quickly.
It's an item in your budget that can sneak up on you......buying a little better quality food or an item that's a "treat"(not something you buy every day) or buying a food even though it's not a good deal because you just want to eat it now anyway.....these are all the ways that add a few pennies here, a dollar there to your food costs, and before you know it, you are $30 over your food budget for the week or month. And if you keep on that path from month to month, you'll be looking up a year later to see that you've overspent on the food category without a clue how.
It's important for all of us to at least consider all the tricks in the food shoppers' arsenal.
Even if you've never taken a list to shop from to the store before, or made your own convenience mixes, or meal planned, or gone in with some neighbors and started your own food co-op, or grown a garden, or used a coupon, or bought from a farmer and froze or canned inexpensive veggies, or stockpiled in good quantity something your family eats when it's on a great sale, or bought a new item and gotten a full price cash rebate back so basically you've gotten the item for free(minus postage), maybe you should consider trying one or more of these methods of bringing down your food and toiletries bill.
Don't dismiss any of these techniques out of hand! You might just find that something you never considered before might be a great way to make your food dollar go further.
Some of these are simple ways to stretch your food dollars, some take much time and effort, and some may seem like they are difficult but once you figure it out, you'll wonder why you never tried them before.
What about you?
Do you budget your food spending?
How do you figure out what to spend?
What do you do to reduce the amount you have to spend to feed your family?
What has worked best for you in the past to keep your spending in line with your income?