Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Budget: Totals are In

If you've stumbled upon this post thinking you'll find guidance on how to feed your family on $50 a week, you're in the wrong neighborhood. I commend the women like Frugalissa, Gabrielle, and Coupon Katie who routinely hit their budgets of $200 - $400 a month. I, however, have set some realistic and attainable goals that are right for MY family, and at the end of each month, here is where I hold myself accountable.

I've decided to group all the food, household needs, clothing, etc. into one category and set a monthly budget of $800. That includes a weekly trip to Kroger, one trip to Earthfare, weekly trips to Walgreens and CVS, one or two trips to Target, as well as all consignment sales, department stores, craft stores, dollar stores, and any other extras I might splurge on. It would cover fast food and dining out if we ever did either, but those cases are slim. Yes, I once tried to order a burger at Chick-fil-A. Fast food is not my forte.

So since we rarely eat out and my husband takes left-overs for most lunches, I put a lot of time and effort into making healthy, affordable meals. I shop the sales, use my coupons, load my card with e-savers, and work the deals at pharmacies. But I still can't come close to the mega-budgeters listed above. And you know what: that's ok. I'm careful about how I spend our money and I'm keeping track of what I spend where. For that, I've come a long way.

So how did I do for March? I actually went over ten bucks. I could have forfeited that last trip to Target and the good deals on the board games. Or I didn't have to buy the 1000 paperclips for five bucks, but I was thinking ahead. I needed about 200 paperclips for a MOMS Club project, and the larger bin was the better economical decision for the long haul. So yes, I now have paperclips to last me, well, forever, but I can live with that. And since I was $20 under budget last month, I can let this minor infraction slide.

This brings me to one final budgeting issue that was a mathematical certainty at some point. Generally, I've been budgeting by the week, four weeks in a month. In April, I will need to budget for five weeks (including all that I just spent on Sunday). I'm keeping my monthly budget the same; I'll just have to make one week light. Maybe I'll have a "perimeter only" week at Kroger where I only buy produce and dairy. I just made a lot of freezer meals, and I bought two large items that will go into several meals: a turkey and a ham. We'll see.

So the totals: I spent $810.65 ($556.68 primarily to groceries and $253.97 to household goods). Through sales, coupons, and e-savers, I saved $616.07 or 42%. I also earned $40 in rebates.

So how did you do?


  1. Way to go, Mama!
    How do you keep track of your spending? Do you keep receipts or have a program you use? I was thinking of downloading an app for my phone but all of the high rated apps cost money. I am more of a "free app" girl~ HA! Oh~ I thought I would share... I budget $500 food, $100 supplies. Between diapers and dog/cat food, the $100 goes pretty quickly. :(

  2. Sadly I do not have a high tech system. Right now I'm adding the totals of each receipt (with noted savings) the old fashioned way--by pen and paper. I add them up periodically to see how I'm doing so that I don't have any big shockers at the end of the month. I actually try to do some of the math by hand to keep the wheels sharp but I always check my numbers with a calculator. We have Quicken but I was getting frustrated with all the other variables that are out of my hands. I don't need to think about the mortgage or the car payment--just the variables that I can control. It works for now.

    I am hoping to get down to $600 some months. One can dream! Now that I'm getting the hang of this couponing, I'm learning which deals I can live without and when enough is enough of stock piling.