Monday, June 20, 2011

Moolah Monday - The Cost of Eating

Right now we are a family of six going on seven.  So weird since two years ago we were learning we'd biologically stay a family of 3.  In all honesty if we weren't infertile I'd bet that we would have probably hit 3 and stopped or, maybe 4.  Though I had 5 on my heart, my husband was happy to take it 1 at a time until 3 and there wasn't that much interest in talking beyond that.  Yet here we are having been parents to so many kiddos, now a family of 6 with a 7th maybe on the way, just 2 years later. 

Side note - if you are happening on my blog with new infertility on your heart, or really if you are struggling at all with wondering how God's plan is playing out in your life...I hope this is encouragement to you.  2 years ago our dreams of being parents and developing our family died.  We had to mourn that death.  But now that death has grown into a bigger dream than we'd ever hoped.  I pray that you trust God and find your dreams growing soon.

You know by now that we are trying to figure out how to pay for not one but two unplanned, unfunded adoptions.  I talked to you a bit about how we had to come up with money for me to stay home at a relatively short notice, which we were able to do.  I talked to you a bit about how we needed to come up with both adoption expenses and monthly expenses pretty quickly.  We are currently working through that plan, hoping God helps us figure it out!

In the process both my husband and I have seperately looked at our budget to see where we could trim down spending.  He did something I've done several times in the past - he started from our monthly actual spend and categorized up.  Since I've done that before I used the budget we had as a guiding principle to see how we could rearrange dollars.  We both found the same things - the money would be tight but we'd have to really watch our spending and there probably wouldn't be too much room for wiggle.

Translation - we were looking for approximately 2K in our budget.  Disgustingly (gratefully) we have that 2K in our budget as extra cash now.  So though we're very grateful that we have those resources, it's a bit ugly to look at how we've mismanaged our finances recently.  We both knew we were doing it, but because we had that "extra" money we didn't pay attention, and when you don't pay attention and put your money to work for you it will be bad in two ways.  First, you may make financial decisions you otherwise wouldn't have (spend on things you wouldn't have, fail to pay off debt, etc.).  Second, you end up building habits that are, in my opinion, just gross and irresponsible.

We're not talking anything super bad, but it is something we deserve to be called out on. For example, my husband did the math and in the first 11 days of May we averaged spending $375 per day. That's over $3750 in 11 days. Now granted we had some of our big monthly expenses come out then, but admittedly that did not include our bigger house payment or our car payment.  To me, that's just gross and irresponsible of us.  Thankfully my husband agrees and we're back into the cost-saving mode we both need and secretly love.

The other area that was disgusting was our actual spend on eating out.  I don't know the actual number, but it was well over $1K, probably close to $1500 or so.  (that does not include the $1K or more that we spent in groceries).  To be fair (???), we work weird hours and it's really hard for me to cook meals consistently that he and I can eat together, which leads him to eat out more often than desired and/or me to do the same.  I always try to make it a fun traditional thing for the kids - like Kids Eat Free tuesdays at Jason's Deli (no longer the case) or Friday's at Cici's pizza - both chosen for their frugality but add up quickly with 4 kids.

Now we're back to trying to keep spending under wraps.  Here's what we're shooting for:
  • $600 per month - groceries
  • $100 per month - eating out
  • $400 per month - various entertainment budgets (Dad, Mom, Child, Family) - which could be used for eating out if we so chose.
I'm not sure we're going to hit that this month; we may need to adjust it because we went over that a bit when my parents were in town.  The good news is, that's $1100 per month vs. $2500-$3000 per month we've been spending.  Of we can meet our goals there we could possibly get close to the $2k just in those budget lines.

So, what do you think - for a family of 6, 4 of whom are under 5, is that a reasonable food budget?  Where would you caution me to look differently?  What suggestions would you make?


Julie said...

I got into couponing after my son was born. It can be super time consuming or not at all - just depends on how organized that you want to be. I was able to virtually eliminate what I spent on household items, personal hygiene, etc -- Our grocery budget including these items is $400 a month for a family of four. We spend $200 or so a month eating out. I've learned that a crock pot is my best friend... cause it does the cooking for me. I am SOO happy that you guys are going thru with both adoptions. My heart was sick that $ would end up being a reason not to. It's a necessary thing... but I just hate when it gets in the way. God will provide!

Mie said...

Thanks Julie! I love couponing. I don't spend as much time doing it as I should, but I do what I can. I shoot for 50% off the total bill. I am somewhat limited though because I always have to bring the kids with me and not everywhere caters to 4 kids my age. Plus, it's hard to go to several stores and do it right.

Thanks for your support! We're excited. Look for the message tomorrow to find out more craziness in our story!

Dana Beam said...

That's great that you're able to come up with so much "extra" cash. It is really gratifying when you are able to save more when you already thought you were doing a good job. I personally think your $100 eating out budget is too strict and going to lead to disappointment. Although it's good to set high goals it's going to be really hard to go to 10% of what you were doing in one month and that may lead to disappointment or making yourself feel guilty and really who has time for that?! On a side note have you ever looked into once a month cooking? You could break it up to twice a month if you wanted or more and make all the food for a few weeks at one time, freeze it in individual portions and then you won't "need" to eat out as often. has a ton of free resources that you might like. I also agree with the crockpot idea. Good luck with your budgeting :)