October spending: Week one

I have a confession to make.  I don’t really stick to a budget.  I pay all my bills and still have money leftover for nonessentials like going out, and I save over 10% of my income each week, so I usually assume I’m doing okay.

I have tracked my expenses for one week.  I am not doing okay.

Inspired by a fellow blogger at Drop That Debt, who posts her weekly spending every week, I decided to track mine for the month of October and see where my money was leaking out.

Spoiler alert: It’s groceries.

From October 1 to October 7, I spent over $950.

Bills: Rent ($505), student loans ($42ish and $96ish), internet ($30), and gas ($60 – includes the last installment of my deposit; gas bills will henceforth be a fraction of this cost!).  Okay, over half of that ridiculous number up there is bills.  Bills are legitimate expenditures.  Not bad.

Essentials: Gasoline ($31.77) – I have reduced my spending on gas over the last month by WALKING every day! Gotta go to the store? Walk. Want to eat out? Walk. Post office? Walk. (I love my city). My general practice is to use the car only for commuting to and from work, but I do use it to go to Earth Fare grocery store, which is too far for me to comfortably walk.  I try to do that on my way home from work though.  I also drive to my mom’s house, usually once a week.

Nonessentials: Kindle eBook ($5), DVD gift for my mom ($8.27), Groupon to organic restaurant ($1 – I had credits on my account), and a carbon offset for my flight to Spain ($38.42).  Obviously this section could be reduced by not buying eBooks, gifts, or Groupons.  I felt really compelled to buy the carbon offset being an eco-hippie.  It won’t be a regular thing because I don’t regularly take transatlantic flights.

Groceries (I hope you’re sitting down): 

  • Target on 10/1: $10.24 (spices, bread, vegan beef tips for soup)
  • Earth Fare on 10/1: $28.58 (some produce, ingredients to make two batches of soup – lots of canned goods)
  • Amazon, 10/2: $10.79: Organic non-GMO canola oil (because I’m a dirty hippie)
  • Earth Fare, 10/4: (big sigh) $64.76.  IN MY DEFENSE, $40 of this was a bulk bag of frozen soy nuggets, so that I can make vegan mock-chicken salad at home at half the cost (in the long run) of buying it pre-made from the deli counter.  I also got some apples, and stuff to make a vegan no-bake Thin Mint cookie recipe (which is delicious).
  • Walgreens, 10/6: $18 on batteries for my camera and bottled drinks before a photo safari.  Big fail here, I should have brought drinks from home.  I should also look into rechargeable batteries.
  • Marc’s, 10/6: $7.45 on vinegar, castor oil, wax paper, peroxide, and bread – I have no shame about this one.

I clearly have to get my grocery budget in order.  I promise that I do not normally spend $140 per week on groceries.  I usually spend about $20-30 per week.   I would like to get to a grocery budget of $100 per month.

How will I do this?

  • Avoid convenience foods or pre-made foods.  It’s cheaper to buy ingredients and cook.
  • Only buy what I will eat (if I buy too much, I will freeze it and eat it later)
  • Buy dry goods instead of canned goods.  It is more affordable to get a bag of dried beans than it is to get a few cans of the same beans.
  • Plan weekly menus and make a shopping list.  No more impulse purchases.

I think these goals will help keep me in line when it comes to groceries.  I am using October as my “control month,” and I will post these weekly updates on Sundays so as to not interrupt your regularly scheduled Born Again Minimalist programming.  My expectation is that the rest of the month will have a lot less spending because I’m keeping track of it all and I won’t want to keep confessing these spending sins.

How do you minimize your grocery budget?

11 thoughts on “October spending: Week one

  1. jessreed7 says:

    When I live and work on campus over the summer, I always do pretty well with my buying groceries. My biggest (HUGEST) downfall is eating out. I ate out nearly every day for the first month and then I had to put the breaks on so I, you know, could actually save money to come to Spain. And here, it’s really hard to not just go out. I’m having a rough time not being able to eat the food at the resedencia (you try eating a salad with dressing that tastes like seawater) and so I go out. I can’t buy “groceries” here, but I should buy snacks and take more fruit from the resedencia to eat throughout the day or to eat if the meal they serve has more salt than an entire McDonalds menu.

  2. living lagom says:

    Groceries are usually my biggest expenditure after rent (I don’t have a car). I save money by going to the farmers market. I also eat A LOT of buddha bowls!!! I’ll make a batch of brown rice or quinoa for the week and have that as my main meal. Another way is to use smaller plates. Plates used to be smaller back in the day. If it was enough food back then, it should be enough food today!

  3. Nicola B says:

    I find that I spend less if I batch cook food…I don’t then get lazy and hungry and buy random extra stuff. I sometimes fail at that though! (Sometimes/often!)

    • Caitlin says:

      I HANG MY HEAD IN SHAME. But it will be good! I’m working on a DIY kitty litter project right now, which will save me approximately a billionty dollars if my cat actually uses it.

  4. moteviolence says:

    I also batch cook food, especially now that it’s getting to be cooler and I can start using my crockpot again! I load up on veggies and dried beans from the bulk bin (which also helps save money) and make a ton of soup at a time and then freeze about half of it. I will happily eat the same thing for days but boyfriend starts to get a little twitchy.😉

    I also do the menu planning and make a shopping list, because otherwise, like you said, you start buying random things! I find that making things like quinoa bowls are relatively cheap and filling and it doesn’t take much to get there.

    Good job on tracking spending! I look forward to seeing how October ends up panning out for you!

    • Caitlin says:

      Thanks for your comments and tips. I’m interested in doing freezer meals but lately I’ve been freezing the veggies I buy too much of at the store so they’re taking up my freezer🙂

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