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How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?

Budget Stretcher (featured column)
by Terry Rigg

First, when we are talking about setting an exact dollar amount for groceries for each family that asks, that's almost impossible. What we can do is allot a portion (percentage) of our income for food.

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There again, you have all of the variables like the size of your family, eating habits, etc. Also, a family with a low income may have to allot a larger percentage of their income toward buying food.

The question I would like to ask you is how much are you spending on groceries per month? I would have to say that most people wouldn't have any idea.

Better yet, how much could you be spending on food? In other words if you are currently spending $600 on food for your family let's try to cut that down to $500 or even $400. But first you will need to know how much you are spending now.

This is going to be a real hassle for a month or two because you will need to keep track of your grocery purchases. All of them!

Now, we can make that a little easier but you will need to have your finances set up a certain way. I always suggest that you only use 4 categories for your budget. These are Housing, Other Bills, Household Expenses and Savings.

Your grocery bill would come under that category of Household Expenses. If you have your finances set up this way each member of the family will have an allowance each payday for things like car gas, lunches, parking, snacks, etc. Doing it this way would eliminate the need to keep up with each family member's food spending except for the family pizza night.

All you would have to do is save your grocery receipts for about 30 to 60 days and add them up. This should give you a good idea of how much you spend on a monthly basis for food.

When you have this information it's time to start looking for ways to cut that figure down as low as you can and still provide good nutritious meals for your family.

If I started telling just the ways I know of how to save on groceries, this article would turn into a book. There are endless ways to cut back on your food spending.

Here is a great place to start... www.grocerysavingtips.com

With all of that said, the bottom line is that you need to spend what ever it takes on groceries to survive. In too many cases people will pay their bills out of their grocery budget. This won't work. Water, Food and shelter are the basics. Put them first no matter what your bills are or how many times they call to harass you.

I know you are still looking for a dollar amount for your family. If you pin me down I would have to say about 15% to 20% of your income could be spent on food. For a family making $3000 a month that would mean you would set aside about $450 to $600 for food. This is great unless you have teenagers that go through the kitchen like vacuum cleaners.

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Copyright © 2005 by Terry Rigg. All rights reserved.

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