Monday, June 29, 2009

How Much Are You Spending At The Grocery Store This Year?

As we're approaching June 30th, I'm about to hit the half-way point of my grocery spending tracking this year. My initial goal for 2009 was to spend $5,000 or less. I don't set a weekly budget because I find with certain sales and what we need, I'm spending more some weeks and less other weeks. So I do averages. The first 3 months were a breeze - spending just over $300 each of those months. The next 3 months - I was very close, if not over my $416 a month goal. I'm currently at $2,177 spent with 3 days left of the month. I do have a small BJ's run to do today, but I'm $323 under the half-way mark of $2,500. So it's been making me think about spending at grocery stores and whatnot...

Most people - they just go to the grocery store weekly, drop $150-$200 and don't think anything of it. Actually - the "experts" say that people should spend between 5 and 15% of their income on food spending. That's a BIG difference. Some others have broke it down more:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average family spends 12.5% on food.
The Department of Agriculture estimates the average family spends 9.8% on food.
Gary Foreman of "The Dollar Stretcher" estimates the average people spend on groceries and dining out is between 15-20%
**(Stats taken from an MSNBC Article)**

Now let's break it down in dollar terms. Let's say a family makes a combined income of $75,000 a year.

Based on 5%, that's $3,750 a year.
Based on 15%, that's $11,250 a year.
(See how 5-15% is a BIG difference? - I can only assume the experts give those figures based on higher income people spending closer to 5% of their income and lower income people spending closer to 15%.)

Based on 12.5%, that's $9,375 a year.
Based on 9.8%, that's $7,350 a year.

I've decided that I should own some grocery stores. I mean really, what other business manages to get $8,000 per family EVERY YEAR?! $8,000 is a major investment. Sure, spread out over weekly $150 grocery trips, it doesn't seem that much - but it is a lot - and we do it EVERY SINGLE YEAR! I think it's so incredibly important to be price savvy on the things that YOU buy, want and need.

When I set my $5,000 goal, I really had no idea what I was doing. At first it was pretty easy to stick to, but it's been getting challenging. There were a few factors that went into my initial setting of that goal - but pretty much, all those factors have changed, but I'm trying to stick to my goal anyways.

If you are new to trying to save a buck or two at the grocery store, I recommend to take one of the percentages I listed up above (or any percentage that you feel comfortable with), multiply it by your yearly income and divide it by 52. This will give you a rough estimate of a weekly amount you should be spending. So if you are making $62,000 a year, want to spend 10% of your income on groceries ($6,200), just divide by 52, and you get $119.23 a week you should spend on groceries. Round it to $120 to make life easier. Maybe you are already spending less than this. Maybe you are spending a lot more. Now you have a goal and can work from there. Before I actually started "tracking" my grocery spending, I was telling people I averaged about $70 a week at the grocery store - which was true - but I never took into account the crazy random $100 trips to BJ's or my CVSing. Now that I'm tracking, not only am I more aware of where my money goes, but we are definitely spending less and becoming more healthy (a trip to BJ's ALWAYS included a box of mozzarella sticks before this January. Now, not so much).


Katidids said...

Wow, thats an investment to ourselves! That is quite a chunk! I think for the majority it sould decrease if the cut out a lot of the prepared foods & junk snacks. Yes they do serve a purpose but are high $$

Anonymous said...

Becky, I do believe the higher amount could be right with a family eatting out and all, lunches, a quick coffee ect. maybe it will be our New Years Goal to all net work together get a chat box or something and talk about what we really spend.I think our eyes would be re-opened!

Queenbuv3 said...

I don't really have a food budget. I stock up when I have good coupons to combine with good sales. Like you my spending varies because of this. I have saved all my receipts from last year and this year and I would love to add up all my spending for 2008 and 2009 and see how much we have spent and saved. I just might add up this years so far just out of curiosity!

Mom-of-three said...

Consider Grow It Yourself! It isn't too late!
• CHERRY TOMATOES are delicious and easy to grow. Some are so sweet your kids will just pop them in their mouths. Potted plants are available at your local nursery. Look for heirloom varieties, or for fun, try the pearl variety. Two plants will produce plenty of fruit, unless you're feeding an army. Water approximately once every two days, and fertilize every two weeks with liquid fertilizer.
• CUKES are easy and grow fast. Plant them closest to the hose as they need deep, regular watering. For a plentiful harvest, plant cucumber starter plants in mounds every three weeks from now until July 15 or 3 months from the first hard frost. Be sure to select a variety for picking.

• ZUCCHINI will delight your young farmers because of their abundance and speedy growth. Zucchini starters should be planted in mounds and watered deeply once a week. Consider grilling this vegetable and also making zucchini bread with your bountiful harvest.

• LETTUCE is the gift from the garden that keeps on giving! Lettuce is a favorite in the garden because it is easy to grow, is one of the earliest crops that can be planted, and is one of the first crops to yield in the spring. Try growing your lettuce in containers, it doesn’t need a lot or room and has shallow roots!

• PEPPERS -- especially sweet yellow peppers -- make a wonderful addition to homemade salsa! Green are still a classic, but brightly colored, sweet bell pepper varieties have recently burst onto the scene. Place transplants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row, or 14 to 18 inches apart to avoid overcrowding.

Remember, offer new veggies with a ranch dressing dip – this will encourage a taste!

If you don’t have the time or space to garden, experts agree you should teach your children that ‘buying local’ means getting the freshest, most nutritious and best selection of vegetables, flowers and herbs.

“Going local extends further than just the dinner plate,” says Massachusetts Flower Grower Association president Dave Volante, owner of Volante Farms. “Locally grown flowers and plants are hand selected to be more suited to the Massachusetts weather, and that means more success for the home gardener.”

To locate a local garden center or farm stand near you, visit, and your whole family will be on its way to great tasting, fresh vegetables from your own garden to your family’s table, with love.

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky!
Brilliant analysis. Thanks for the stats..

Eden said...

Oh great job! We have a budget of $140 per month so I guess that equals out to about $1680 for a year. Most of the time I never use up the entire budget each month, so I suppose it is even less than that really. But we don't have any kids yet either. Shaw's is our best help in that regard & then this year we have our first garden so we will see how that helps...

Kara said...

Those are interesting figures - I think I'm blowing past my goal of $6k this year, thanks to summer fruits. I keep going to Costco and dropping about $40 on fruit each week, but we do eat it all and never throw any out, so I guess it's not a huge waste. We were averaging about $90 a week in the winter and early spring... now closer to $130. Eep. And hey - great guest post on Simple Thrift!