Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tracking Food Spending Ramble

A few days ago I went back through the blog posts and added my yearly food spending for 2009 and 2010 to my Food Tracking Page located HERE.

I don't know why I hadn't put that out there on the page yet.

I first started tracking all the food/toiletries spending in April of 2009 and posting it on the blog, so 2009 only has 3/4 of the year tracked.
Extrapolate the $444.43 monthly average for those 9 months out to a full year and I get an annual food spending of $5333.16 for 2009.

Here are each year's figures--

2009(April-December)9 Months

2009 Yearly Total Spent after Rebates $3999.85
Average spending per month  $444.43

2010 Yearly Total Spent after Rebates $1539.99
Average spending per month $128.33

2011 Yearly Total Spent $3,080.59

Average spending per month $256.72
2012 Yearly Total Spent $4196.36

Average spending per month $349.70
2013 Yearly Total Spent $4,560.82

Average spending per month $380.07
2014 Yearly Total Spent  $4,989.49
Average spending per month $415.79
2015(6 months in)
2015 Yearly Total Spent  $2,351.66
Average spending per month  $391.94
If you look back at 2009 and 2010, I was heavily into rebating as there were a lot of deals/offers in the stores those years.  Right after the recession hit in 2008 stores were aggressively offering rebates on products to get people to spend as the economy was shrinking.

2010 was especially a FABULOUS year for my food spending.  I spent $3453.13 that year on groceries but had $1913.14 in refunds/rebates/a stockpile sale of toiletries and food that I applied toward the food bill, which made my OOP in 2010 an astonishing low $1,539.99 for the entire year.
That came out to an average of $128.33 per month spent on food/toiletries.

Gee, I sure wish I could have another food spending year like that one! 8-)))

By the end of 2010 I had completely transformed the way I shop.  Unfortunately rebating severely dropped off and couponing got worse too(less good coupons on products we used/lower value/less stores pairing deals with in-date coupons)after that year.

I have refined my methods since 2011 and the size of the family I was buying for has fluxuated from 5 to 2 people to "somewhere in between" during the last 4.5 years.

Inflation("Yah, what inflation?", the government says!?)figures taken from a website I found, has driven prices up every single year(the highest was in 2012 at a 4.5% increase, 1.75% increase in 2013, just over 1% increase in 2014 and almost 3.5% increase so far in 2015).

From 2011 to 2014 my monthly food spending has risen a total of $159.07, from $256.72 to $415.79.
So far in 2015 we are on track to bring that monthly average down to $391.94 which is a good trend.

Where am I going with this ramble?

I don't know. 

It just seems that even though my methods have been refined year after year on how I acquire our foodstuffs/toiletries and we are buying smarter and healthier goods overall, the changes the stores and manufacturers have made to "the shopping game" as well as inflation on food product prices(and the shrinkage)has negated and thwarted my efforts.

It's hard work to find the best prices on the items your family needs to live.  The effort and time required to hunt down deals is significant and don't let anyone tell you that feeding your family and keeping to a budget is easy. 
Yes, maybe it you have unlimited dollars to spend but nowadays who has that luxury?

What I think I truly need to lower my food spending significantly is for the US economy to take another nose-dive and the food companies/stores to again offer liberal incentives to get shoppers to buy their products.  Of course this would only work a bit for me anymore as many of those foods I use to stockpile back in 2009-2011 we don't consume anymore.
Please the economy tanking again wouldn't be good for most other people or anyone with a job so I won't really wish this to occur.  ;-)

All I'll say is that keeping an eye on what you spend on food(which is by far the largest variable bill people have and is a true need-everyone has to eat, right?)is very important in order to reach your financial goals in life.
You can succeed with a budget in every other area of your life but being out of control on your food spending can sink your overall plan pretty fast!

A good place to start on figuring out if you spend too little or too much on food per month is the USDA reports on the Cost of Food charts.

Every month the government releases the data for the average cost of food per family/person that is spend in the US.  Their data is broken down into 4 levels of spending on food-Thrifty, Low Cost, Moderate and Liberal.
The report for May 2015 is located HERE. This is the most recent set of figures I could find.

According to the chart, a family of 3(like us)averaged $546.70 spending at the thrifty level, $716.60 at the low cost level, $995.70 at the moderate level and $1,087.80 at the liberal level.
I actually spent $515.77 on food in May 2015 so we were under the Thrifty level average compared to other US families.

Of course, the cost of food in your area(as well as what you buy and how you shop)will also weigh into this equation and affect your actual spending.
But putting your food spending up against the average reported in the whole country is a good way to gauge where you are falling in the spending spectrum.

Personally I'd strive to keep my family food spending somewhere between the thrifty and low-cost levels.
It goes without saying that if you find yourself maxing out your food spending in the liberal range you may want to reign in what you are buying.
Unless of course you can afford to light your stove with $100 bills........

Just imagine if you spent at the liberal levels and you cut your food budget just $300 a month(effectively going from a liberal level to somewhere between the thrifty and low cost levels).

After doing this for a year, this one action would give you an additional $3,600 to apply to other areas of your life.

You could pay off a chunk of debt if you have some.
You could pay off a chunk of your mortgage if you have one.
You could throw a chunk of money into an emergency fund/savings.
You could throw a chunk of money into an account for your retirement years.
You could put this hunk of money into a Car Replacement account and when the time came to replace your vehicle you could NOT be that much more in debt on a car purchase.

Given enough time just changing what you spend on food every single month could change your life!
It has mine.....how about you?




  1. "negated and thwarted my efforts"-We have never had it as good as you have with the deals here in upper IL. But I really do work to keep the prices down. We are spending $110-$150/week for 3ish people. It's funny that we think this is too much and compared to others we are thrifty. I think that we could do better but I can't seem to cut us back.
    I wish that I could find somewhere to shave off $300 a month. That would be a very nice car for "free." Hmmmm, maybe I should look for the money.

    1. Well "finding" money in our budgets is darn near impossible as we spend so frugally. But someone spending $1000 a mo. on food it would be a lot easier to come up with savings.

      If you took down the pool and turned that area into a massive garden and preserved everything y'all didn't eat fresh for the rest of the year you could possibly save more on the food bill..unless Den and DJ decided to become anti-vegetarians....lolz

  2. The food thing is tricky. Along with fewer "deals", prices on just about everything has had a huge increase. It is just getting harder and harder to pare down on food budgets. About the only way I see limiting spending is to pretty much make everything from scratch, but you also have to balance that with putting some value on time. No solutions here!

  3. We spent $480 a month on food in 2014 on average. This year, so far, we are averaging $542 (two adults, man & woman, over age of 51). If we were younger, according to the chart, we could eat and spend more. Obviously, we're going in the wrong direction. LOL.
    I think the extra $62 a month we're spending is just due to the increased cost of food because we certainly aren't buying anything different. Beef is totally out of our equation. *shrug*

  4. Hey wait - the operating table! Is that today, or tomorrow? Come on - I'm rooting for you to pull through.

  5. For my daughter and I we average $60-$70 per week at the most. That includes laundry detergent, shampoo etc. We're not big meat eaters so that helps. My monthly budget amount is $240 but there's often money left at the end of the month. Another big help is my mastercard points go towards groceries and last week I spent $70 in points for free food - I love that!!


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