Grocery Project Update: Victory is mine! (sort of)

Apologies for the delay in updating on May’s grocery bill – I was away on vacation.  (Thanks Rule Two!).

So, I’m super excited to write this update.  My total grocery bill in May was…(insert drum roll)…


VICTORY IS MINE! I had budgeted for a total of $350 and came in way under that.  Awesome.

But, that’s not the whole story.  Let’s look at how things wrapped up:

Remember, I start by budgeting in the MAX category, then adjust as the month moves along.  Some dollars also rolled over from April.

During my last post, Charlie M made the following comment:

He’s onto me.  🙂  It’s a really fair point.  I shoot for about $100 a month for eating out.  Am I hitting that?  I decided to look.  (I was scared.)  Here’s the report for the last 12 months:

Notice in the filter that it says “Selected Categories”.  I chose only restaurants.  $1696.51 divided by 12 months = $141.38

There’s more to the story if we look at spending trends for the past year as well:

Woah!  Look at May 2014!  What is up with that?  The month of my lowest grocery bill is also the month of my highest restaurant bill.

I guess victory isn’t mine after all.

Nah.  There’s no reason to get all dramatic here.  There’s actually a good explanation for why May was so high.  I was at a conference for two days, and then traveled to New York City to watch my brother graduate from law school.  Have you ever eaten out in New York City?  It’s not cheap.  And naturally, being a super proud big sister, I wanted to treat. I planned for this.  I knew there’d be more eating out in May so I budgeted accordingly. If I had been home more, my grocery bill would have been higher.  But hundreds of dollars higher?  Probably not.

May just wasn’t a very normal month.  That’s why I wanted to do this experiment over several months.  It’s really easy to look at one month and think you’re seeing the whole picture, when really it’s just a part of the picture.  Life is changing and dynamic. Budgeting is too.

So as I head into June, I’ve still got quite a bit of food in the cupboards and freezer, so I’ve decided to try to eat from what I have as much as I can this month.  Here’s how June has gone so far:

I had some roll over from last month.  I’m shooting for a total of $225.  The easiest way to calculate that is to just add the total spending ($93.99) to the category balance in the max category ($131.01).  I’m not sure I’ll keep breaking things out past June.  We’ll see.  I think it’s helping so I’m little worried about slipping if I let it go.  I’m also going to continue my mission of less trips to the store.

All in all, I feel like I’m making really good progress on this, and I feel like I’m eating really well.  I haven’t felt compromised in that regard.  The money I’m saving on groceries is more money I have to get that car paid off.  The payment is $200 a month and this month I’ve been able to scrounge up $600 from across my budget.  That feels amazing.

So how do things look for all of you?  Do you see your eating out bill climbing as the grocery budget declines?  Do you budget a total for both and keep an eye on that? I’d love to hear how people manage that.

Maybe we need a post on eating out and the challenges associated with that.

*To be clear, I’m Snoopy, not Lucy.