On an average week, we run to the grocery store more often that I can keep track of. I not only have four very active, very hungry kids to feed, but as a cookbook author I am constantly experimenting in the kitchen and lately it seems as if all of our monthly budget is going to groceries. I say budget loosely, because I actually don’t have one. I vaguely keep track of our balance and when it seems like we are constantly hovering near zero, I start to panic.
We have had a ton of unexpected expenses lately, like having lost thousands from having to write off our van when we got rear-ended (we still owe money on the last van), a leak in our basement (from a son who forgot to turn off the faucet while washing the dog), a busted furnace, a leaky water filter, and an emergency visit to the vet in the middle of the night, plus we are looking at the prospect of paying three orthodontist bills in the near future. Yikes!
So in a panicked-where-is-my-money-going moment, I reached out to my trusty tribe on facebook and asked them for their favourite budgeting tools. They came back with some amazing suggestions, which I immediately checked out. Here are my favourites:
Gail Vax Oxlade – The one I ended up using because of my ineptitude (ok, it’s actually impatience but the end result is the same) for anything finance-related. This was so simple. Just open up Gail’s interactive budget worksheet and plug in your salary, your expenses, your debts, your savings, and so forth, and it automaticallly spits out how much ‘jar money’ you have to spend each month (or week if you prefer). I took this literally and created jars (pictured above) which we will use as a family we get to spend each week. One thing that it lacked was the ability to customize certain categories using the online version, but I believe you can download the excel sheet where you can likely customize everything. Overall though, I love that this site was so simple that it took me less than 15 minutes to create a budget! Even better? It’s totally free!
Mvelopes – Mvelopes is an award-winning budgeting app that has been featured all over the media. It’s much more powerful than Gail’s online budget because you actually register all of your bank accounts and credit card bills and are provided with up to 25 different spending envelopes – electronically! How cool is that? Plus you can log in from anywhere and get real-time net-worth tracking, so if you are a bit OCD about stuff like that, this app would be perfect. It supports most financial institutions in the US and Canada and it uses the same encryption software as the banks do, so your information is secure. The only downside to mvelopes is that you need to spend some initial time entering all of your account information, which is the only reason I didn’t start using it right away, but I plan to once I have a bit of time to set aside. Mvelopes is free as well.
One thing I learned is that I didn’t know how much I was spending on things like gas, groceries, and I wondered if I was the only one. I mean, I really had no clue! So guess where I turned? If you guessed facebook, you got it right! It never ceases to amaze me what an amazing wealth of information facebook can be. What I learned was that pretty much everyone knows how much they spend on groceries (I bet that the same goes for gas) and that it is a VERY hot topic at the moment. Here are some of the responses I got when I asked what people spend on their groceries each month:
- 2 adults $500.
- 1 adult and 2 kids…..$300-400/month.
- $600 for two.
- $1200 for 2 adults, 2 kids and a baby.
- 2 adult 2 young children, 1000+.
- Family of 4, $800 minimum. Vegan.
- $600 for 2, plus maybe $100 extra in supplements.
- About $800, for 3 full time and roasts every other Sunday for 7-10.
- $800 or so for two adults and two children.
- about $1000, 2 adults and 2 teens.
- We’re about $2000 which I realize is bananas. Two adults, two kids and nine food allergies. We make all from scratch and all organic.
- Between $500-600 a month for one adult and one 12 year old boy, everything from scratch plus food intolerances.
- $700 roughly for 2.
- $600 for 2 adults and 4 kids under the age of 6.
- $700 for 2 adults and 2 young kids. We could definitely (easily) spend more if we had the money!
- 200$ a week 2 adults and 2 kids.
- $600 for 2 adults and a kid.
- $1000-$1200 two adults and 3 kids ages 5, 3, 1 eating organic and whole food.
- $1500/month for a family of five.
- $1600-$2000 mostly organic, whole foods, 4 adults.
- 1 adult $200.
- About $1500 for 2 adults, 2 kids, all organic & from scratch.
- 3 adults, $1200-1500 a month.
- Between $600 and 700 for 3 adults but prices are going up all the time
- Me $300, GF and organic when I can
- -$600 for 2 of us
- $800-$1,000 2 adults & 2 kids (1 & 4)
- Around $700-$1000 whole foods mostly organic family of 5 (baby is still nursing) also in Ontario.
- Around $400 for two people.
- $1,200 family of 4. Maybe 50% organic produce but 100% clean meats.
- I would guess $1,000-1,200 for a family of 4 80% organic produce.
- $1200 – 1500 family of 4 organic and whole foods.
- We spend about $600-800 and are 2 adults and 2 children.
- $800 for a family of 6. I shop sales.
- $1000 for two people.
- $400 for 2 adults……+ we eat out at restaurants 1-2x a week.
- Too much..!!
- Food is expensive $500 a month in organic fruits/veggies & another $300 at the grocery store = $700-$800 a month.
- About $600-700 (not including takeout) for 2 adults and 3 kids.
- 4 adults. $1200 a month?
- $320 a month for one.
- $5 adults around $1500,00.
- At least $1,500…… at least.
- $1000 2 adults 1 child.
- Who knows and who cares………food is joy.
- 2 adults and 2 kids; we spend about $1200.
- $400-500 2 adults organic.
- Two adults. One teen. One toddler. $1200/month.
- probably $600 a month with only two of us. Only whole real foods.
- $800 for 2 adults & 1 child (9). But the adults are competitive athletes.
- $800 – $1000 all from scratch for 2 adults, 1 toddler.
- Around $800 on two adults and one dog! Only organic, grassfed, free range, whole food. Dog eats a homemade, organic diet also.