Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Grocery Budget

You have read some of my posts, no doubt, about budgeting, and the peace that it brings to know what you have to spend each week, month, or year.

However, I have been having a real struggle, it seems, with our grocery budget. It is tough to explain why, or to even track why. I mean, we have a family of five, so I know, it takes some money to feed us. Also, what works well, is the fact that we are buying more regular staples, meats, vegetables, and the like. We are also finding deals on things, and stocking up. For instance, we found boneless chicken at Sam's club by the 40 pound case for $1.05 per pound... usually we spend $1.79 at the discount grocery store, and it is upwards of $3.49 per pound at the regular grocery stores. So we grabbed a case of it, bagged it up, and in the freezer it goes.

So maybe I am too hard on us. We are still working at it. I comment to my wife that we are spending a bit on groceries, but we are eating better than ever. Also, when you factor in that we are spending close to $400 less per month on eating out, the savings are even better.

Well, maybe we will tighten up a bit on the groceries. It is hard to when you find deals like the boneless chicken.

One last thing... I always look at groceries in the freezer like money in the bank. It is a storage facility for an asset. And, when you save money on it, even better! But, having a freezer full of food is great when you have a tight week, and want to skip grocery shopping. That way, you can. In fact, you have to skip it every few weeks, to realize the savings that you are getting from buying in bulk and on sale.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sorry about the lack of posts....!

I am hoping to get back on a more regular schedule now! It has been a bit crazy lately, and it is good to know that people are reading. Thank you for that!

Have a great day!

Wow, am I glad that December is almost over!

I mean it! I love the Christmas season, so that has nothing to do with it. We had Christmas mostly funded in October this year, with a bit added on in November, so Christmas was not a real stretch for us. We did not go overboard spending with our children, but they all were very happy with what they received.

No, it is just the fact that my income has taken a real beating this month! My take home income is off by about $1100.00 for the month of December over the month of November! This is even with there being five paychecks in November!

One of the things that I am grateful for is that I am doing a "written" (computerized) spending plan, because it certainly has made this into just a minor inconvenience, instead of a major crisis. You see, I am paid a bonus based upon profits for the month. I would receive that bonus based on profits for November, in December. I knew when I received my November bonus (which was pretty good), that it was likely to be considerably less in December. I fund several bills that are due quarterly, twice a year, and yearly out of my monthly bonus, so I really had to take a careful look at what was going on.

Since November's bonus was good, I made the election to fund an extra half a months share of these expenses in November. Then, December, even with its lower bonus, would be fine, as there were five weeks in that month. The first week of the month, it was no problem funding the other half of the monthly amounts.

So, when m December take home bonus came in at less than twenty percent of November, it was not nearly the crisis that it could have been. Given that, and the fact that Christmas was all funded, and that I did expect a small ($250) tenure bonus, I might still be able to add some money to my emergency fund.

Then, an email came from payroll. "The value of the personal use of your company provided vehicle is $4800 for the year. Although we do not withhold federal and state taxes, we must withhold FICA and Medicare taxes. This will be $380.00."

Well, that offset the tenure bonus, and definitely made me re-consider what I am reporting for vehicle use! Not really, but it did at least let me know in the future that I needed to be careful of that hit in December!

But you know, even with all of that, and the fact that we have spent some of prior months surplus on Christmas this month, and a vehicle repair bill that I need to pay, we are almost at a break even point for December... equal money coming in to what is going out. Definitely not too bad at all!

Thank goodness for the spending plan! Without it, my December would have been trying to buy Christmas presents out of December's money (I certainly would not have set much aside from October and November, let alone September!), as well as dealing with the hit to my income. I have to say... I never want to go back to that again!

If you are not on a written spending plan, you need to get on one today!