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).