Update: Budget Out of Control!

No more avoidance. I’m coming clean! My budget is extremely out of control!

It started back in December and has only become worse. I don’t want to make excuses, but it’s important for me to figure out what is going wrong, so I can try to fix what’s not working.

In November, I finally found a great new job, and for the first time in a long time, we have some financial security. Our spending in general went up and UP! We’ve been going “without” for so long, it felt freeing to spend money on items we wanted, not just what we absolutely needed.

Now it wasn’t just “new money” that was causing problems; I signed up for the Spring Vegetable CSA which started in March, so $30 was deducted from my weekly spending allotment. Psychologically, with $120-$150 less to spend each month, I felt like I was behind before the month even started. The frugality pinch was back and I rebelled with a lot of careless mistakes, like not sticking to a shopping list and buying items when I really didn’t necessarily need them.

But…there is some good news.

Frugality can sometimes mean cutting corners with food quality to save money, so with increased spending, we’ve been eating a lot more healthier. Vegetable intake has dramatically increased, I started regularly drinking kefir & dandelion root tea, we’ve switched to organic/natural granulated sugar, and generally, I’m really making more of a conscious effort to BE healthier.

Budget Confessions

Confession is good for the soul, so here we go! Let’s get it out in the open.

Some recent changes: I’ve expanded the dining out category to include most of our convenience foods purchases. So, the frozen pizza or pot pie from the grocery store is added there, not to groceries. Groceries should equal to ALL healthy choices. I’m aiming for 20-25% for dining/fast food. I’m also tracking meat purchases separately in a grocery sub-category.

Feb Spending: $419.90 (NOT a bad month)
Groceries: $306.50 (meat: $84.36)
Dining Out/Fast Food: $113.40 (27% of total food)

March Spending: $555.90 (BAD)
Groceries: $429.69 (meat: $44.57)
Dining Out/Fast Food: $126.21 (22.7% of total food)

April Spending: $476.14 (Not great, but too bad)
Groceries: $360.78 (meat: $58.25)
Gardening: $3.58
Dining Out/Fast Food: $111.78 (26.5% of total food)

May Spending: $616.59 (the WORST month)
Groceries: $480.03 (meat $23.05)
Gardening: $30.70
Dining Out/Fast Food: $115.80 (18.8% of total food)

Going Forward

What do I want going forward? That’s a good question. I think I’d like to try for a $450 monthly budget, while trying to stay around $100-$125 for dining out/convenience foods. I want to continue to make healthy choices, but still reward myself with splurges. I’d prefer the splurges to be void of HFCS and hydrogenated oils if possible, which might cost a little more.

My health is worth it, if I need to go over budget due to better food choices.

But I’m really going to strive to stick to prepared shopping lists and plan what I truly need, unless there’s a super good sale. And even then, I need to remember that most sale prices come back on a regular basis, so using up what’s in my pantry and freezer is more important.

I can only do my best.

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 $450 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.