Staying on a budget

Sarah - posted on 10/05/2010 ( 59 moms have responded )

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I was just curious how many moms use a budget, and if so how much do you end up spending on groceries, etc...?

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I'm in love with my budget. Seriously. It saves us so much time and money. I also insist that my husband and I have a budget committee meeting each pay period. He's like, "whatever" but I think he secretly likes our committee meetings.

How much you have in each category depends on how much your family makes. Here is a basic guideline in percentages. 10% tithe (if you believe in that), 15% into retirement, 25% for housing, 5% for transportation. The rest goes towards bills, food, clothes, entertainment, etc.

Since you asked how much is spent on groceries, etc. and I don't mind sharing, I'll tell you. Our grocery budget is set to $400 a month. For me, "groceries" also means diapers, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, etc. Of course, your number will be higher or smaller depending on your family size and food preference. But I find that using coupons (especially for diapers) and buying food in bulk when it's on SALE is what saves us the most money in this category. For example, last week our grocery store had ground meat at 50% off. I bought half a freezer full (which is what I could afford and still stay in my budget). I won't have to buy ground meat for weeks. Which in turn will mean I'll spend less on groceries in the coming weeks. Which means I'll have more money to go into savings.

Of course, you still have to have a little wiggle room and have some fun in life. My husband and I each get $45 each pay period (2 weeks) to use however we want. His money usually goes towards home improvement or vehicle improvement projects. Mine usually goes towards doing fun stuff with our daughter or clothes for her. We also have $50 to eat out on each pay period. This allows us to go on a date or spend a day away from the house as a family. And sometimes we order out for pizza if we don't feel like cooking.

The trick we use for not going over....CASH!!! Each pay period I withdraw the amount of cash we need for two weeks for our food, eating out, and fun money. Once it's gone, it's gone. We've never "accidentally" overspent.

Dawna - posted on 10/07/2010

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Wow! Most of you are doing an amazing job on your grocery budget! We spend about $500/month on groceries, often with $50-$100 left over, which we usually throw at the emergency fund, but about every 4 months I take the excess and stock up on meats on sale (bulk packaging) and repack it and freeze it at home. I could do a lot better if I were to pre-plan our menus using the crock pot much more often. (have work around a busy kid schedule). I also use coupons paired up with sales.

We also use the cash system, and my husband is the number-nerd who keeps all the spread sheets. I supply my receipts, LOL! We discuss how much goes in each account each month, BEFORE the month happens, and spend every dime on paper, on purpose. It's called a zero-balance budget, meaning every penny is assigned, nothing left over. Of course, this includes savings, grocery, restaurant, pets, hair care (cuts... products come out of the toiletries fund), a little bit of fun $ for each of us, commission (allowance) for our daughter, EARNED, not given, gifts (to include Christmas and birthdays), gas, clothing, etc. Each envelope is labeled, and they are not allowed to visit with each other. When it is gone, it's gone. We are currently debt-free except for the mortgage, and we are building an emergency fund before we go gonzo on paying off the house.

Read the book, "My Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. We have followed his plan for about 2 years, now, and although there are some days I don't like the guy much, ("But I WANT it!!"), but overall, it's a great plan. I can't wait to be totally out of debt!

Judy - posted on 10/06/2010

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I don't have a set budget just a mindset.... get as much for as little as possible. I work my grocery list off the store flyer, buy generic most of the time, buy used clothes. My kids love shopping the closets at home before shopping for clothes it saves on overbuying and having way too much... in our house of nine there are always hand-me-downs somewhere for someone.... and I never refuse a bag of clothes.....if not us I just pass it on. I also reservice torn clothing into smaller items if most of the cloth is still in good condition. I raise a huge garden that I can and freeze for the winter months, go berry picking to supply our strawberries and blueberries. We raise our own meat and eggs....what a savings that is. My goal is to use as little of my husbands pay check so he doesn't have to work so hard.

Denikka - posted on 10/05/2010

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I sue a budget and it's the love of my life :P
I spend SO much time working on it and tweaking it, I have it done for almost the next year (up until July when hubby and I are making a drastic move) and then I have an *I hope this is the way things work out* budget for the 2 years hubby will be in school :P
Love love love budgetting.
As for food, I spend about $500 a month ($250 on the first, $250 on the 15th). That's for 3 adults, 3 children 10, 13 and 16 and a toddler (18mo) in Northern BC.
It's easy to stay on budget. I have a very simple method for doing so. I only take $250 with me, in cash (and that's the important part) and any credit or debit cards I have are just off limits (it also helps I pay my bills FIRST, so there's usually very little, if there's any money at all in my debit account). So once the cash is gone, I'm done. That's it. If I'm under, any extra goes into a change bin and gets put away for a rainy day or for something we want, so it's good incentive to try to come in under budget.

Melysa - posted on 10/14/2010

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we have all our bills come out of our joint account including a savings plan, every payday (fortnightly government assistance) it is set up to pay what we expect to owe and if it is not enough we pay an extra payment where required most are adequit, and then we have my husbands wage rent goes out first before he is paid, we have a grocery week and a bills week for things like dance fees, and preschool fees etc, both weeks we need a fresh fruit and vege section a bread section and a milk section, but most of our groceries are bought fortnightly, around $150-$200 for a family of 7 (2 adults and 8g 6b 5g 3g 18mth.b) our budget is tight but christmas presents are paid fortnightly is the money for birthdays etc they are also spread out we have a birthday every 2 months and then christmas so we include that as well. most of the time my groceries bill comes in just under budget i cook everything and have learnt how to make the food stretch so that has been good i will do a roast and then with what is left i will make a pie for example or if it is chicken i will do a creamy pasta, if a recipe calls for cooked chicken i will buy the raw product and cook it at home to reduce cost, usually by doubling the amount i cook for another meal so it does not increase the energy cost either, doubling the recipe and freezing helps us alot making things from scratch instead of using a jar of premade works out cheaper, and filling it out with vege instead of more meat helps too, we have some expense trying to feed our two youngest as they both have food allergies and the replacements cost more than double in some cases (my son's milk for example is $5 for 2L and the rest of the families is only $3.10 for 3L) but our budget works for us

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Missy - posted on 10/20/2010

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I am a stay at home mom and before I got pregnant was the one who made the most money. I went through a time of feeling like I had no say in our money and it wasn't my husband who made me feel that way. I let him handle it till I just had to be involved. Just the past pay period we made up an envelope system. Each has a name of a bill or entertainment or groceries on them. We leave in the bank whatever is an automatic payment or one we pay online, and the rest we pull out and divy between the envelopes. My husband hasn't even used the debit. I even made sure there was extra in the bank in case. I know that God will bless us with much when we are faithful with little.

Renee - posted on 10/15/2010

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Thanks Sara, I will definitely try that! We do have a set amount that he gets from being a disabled vet each month, so I can at least start with that! There is a website at the bottom of the form- is that a website anyone can use, I noticed you have to create an account. Thanks again!

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Renee, can you count on a certain amount? For example...is the unpredictable income always at least $2,000 (just throwing out a number, so you get the idea). Is the income between $2,000 and $3,000 (again, just throwing out numbers)?

What I would do is make a budget for the lowest amount you'll get. So if you never get below $2,000/month set your budget to that.

For any extra that you get above that amount, use this form:
http://a248.e.akamai.net/f/1611/26335/9h...

All the essentials to survive should be in your main budget. The extras will be for putting money into savings, away for Christmas, towards new school clothes for the kids....etc.

I hope that helps you.

Crystal - posted on 10/15/2010

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we spend 300 a month on food and yes. i am budget queen. we always budget our money

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Budgets and menu planning should go hand in hand for us SAHM's. The little community we live in has 2 small grocery stores, almost like a gas station mini mart, but the prices are 300% higher than in the valley, but then you have to factor in gas and travel time. I try real hard not to buy up here, even though I know the stores could close for lack of business. I tried it a couple times but just about died when I spent $50 and only had about 4 things in my bag. I use a budgeting program that breaks everything down by category (b/c DH likes to see where every penny goes not by percentages) and it keeps a running total by month or year. So I can see what months our water bill or electric bill will be higher than others and try to plan for it. I also put in things like car tags, toy hauler tags, tires for 2 trucks, property taxes, so I can try to put extra money away each month to cover those expenses when they come in and not use the credit card. We are still in the process of getting rid of credit cards, slowly but surely we will stop using them. Our goal was to be "debt" free by December 31, but we had a few set backs and the credit cards were used, so now my goal is by our 11th anniversary which is April 1, 2011.
Budgets are hard but worth every minute of them. Sounds like grocery budgets are all the same though - right around $400-$500 a month. I was $13.79 over budget in September on groceries - I was happy at that amount, I'm usually way over budget!

Renee - posted on 10/15/2010

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I try to stick to a budget, but my budget keeps changing right now because none of our income is "set". My husband is working here and there due to recovering from back surgery and my child support is never the same each time, so I never know how much money I will have to budget. I love the meal planning idea though, and it does work! I plan meals around sales and coupons for 2 weeks and shop accordingly. The only difference is, I don't schedule each meal for a specific day because we are horrible about "not being in the mood" for a certain type of food! lol So, I just have a list of available meals and pick from it each night, then cross it off after we have it. Of course, towards the end of the 2 weeks we may have to eat something that we aren't "in the mood for" but for the most part it works :) If anyone has tips for budgeting on unpredicable income, I'd love to hear them!

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For you ladies in the United States, you might find this website helpful...

http://moneysavingmom.com/

Here is her series on cutting the grocery bill...

http://moneysavingmom.com/31-days-to-a-b...

Here is where she matches up coupon deals and sales at grocery stores, most national and regional stores are listed...

http://moneysavingmom.com/store_deals/

The woman who runs the website is amazing. She's a SAHM of 3 and has so many inspirational homemaking and money saving ideas. Word of warning: if you get too caught up in all the deals and ideas she posts, you'll go crazy. Pick and choose what you can reasonably handle!

Kristin - posted on 10/14/2010

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We have a loose budget and are socking away as much as we can for both a car and a house. I sat down with all of the bills and the paystubs and figured out what got paid, when, and how much. Spreadsheets can be a lovely thing. It has enabled me to really see where the money is going and map out a way to pay down the moving debt as fast as possible.

We try to stick with whole foods over processed, seasonal choices really help keep costs down. I canned up some stuff this year (first time ever) and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. My boys don't get new clothes all the time and for the younger two, it is mostly hand me downs. Consignment stores are wonderful for finding new-ish items. I spend money on new long term items (bed, carseat, etc.). We also use cloth diapers primarily and the baby is EBF. I cut the boys' and my husbands hair and have a style on my own head that can go for a 2-3 month period before needing a trim/cut. I religiously use loyalty cards and some of them you can even load with e-coupons. I've also signed up with Upromise which sets aside a percentage of qualifying puchases into a savings account for my kids education.

Budgets really help, but cost of living varies all over and you kind of have to start all over if you move. The most important thing to remember is to not forget to live. No, you probably shouldn't give in to every impulse thing you see, but saving up for a trip to a beach or to family in another state is good way to spend some of the money. See to the future and have some small pleasures in the meantime.

Kristi - posted on 10/12/2010

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Lots of inspiration for using a budget reading all of these posts! I don't, but I do know that we spend about $400-$500 a month on groceries. I like organics and farmers markets, and have gotten much better at cooking scratch and buying bulk foods. This helps, as I prefer food co-ops and Whole Foods markets. I use our monthly coupons and shop discount days as well. We do cloth diapers and breastfeeding so no expense other than utility and soap there. Wish I could do something about these horrible heating and gasoline bills. ACK!

Merry - posted on 10/12/2010

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Oh and I think we save a lot of money by not using daycare, babysitters, formula, bottles, and not going to salon for haircuts etc. Those expenses add up and I don't think it's worth it for us, we have two incomes because I babysit for a friends son, but I take my son along with me so we don't have to spend money on him. And breastfeeding saves hundreds of dollars especially since I am still providing him with about 50% of his diet at 1 1/2, so his food expenses are minimal. I cut my hair, my husbands hair, and our sons hair too so that saves a ton. And everyone should look into target brand diapers, I have not found a cheaper diaper brand and I LOVE them! I tried walmarts brand which is the same price but my son leaked through every single one! Also I buy wipes at sentry grocery store. They have 80 pack for 1$. That's cheaper then anything I've found.

(anyone pay less for wipes? Let me know if you do!)

Merry - posted on 10/12/2010

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Well I don't know if I'm going to be judged for this but my husband and I qualify for food share assistance from our state. They calculate your living bills and your income and give you a specific amount of food money every month. You get more money when you are pregnant, and more when the baby is born, etc.
I feel ok with using the benefits because I know my parents and inlaws used it at the start of their adulthood, and now they are paying it back by taxes. So I think that as long as we see this as a step up for while we are young, and we will be paying into it for the next generation.
So for us our food budget is about 300$ a month, that's what we get, that's all we use. And usually we never get to the end. When we shop we buy sales, use coupons, but we don't choose cheap over healthy. I feel like the state gives us this money so we can have a healthy diet, not so we can but soda and cheetoes! We but fresh fruits and frozen veggies and whole grain bread etc. But when we can save money on store brand or bulk or sales we always do.

We don't use a budget per say, we pay the bills and then don't buy other stuff! I buy diapers when we need them, but other then that I don't go into a store much at all. We don't eat out, we don't go to movies unless it's especial occasion. So our onlyreal expenses aside from bills are diapers, pet food, gas, and little things that we don't need to buy that often like toiletries or cleaning stuff.
We don't use paper napkins or paper towels or paper plates, we don't buy clothes full price,usually second hand for all of us. And I really don't buy clothes for me or my husband much unless we wear out something like his work clothes.
So we don't have debt, only had it once for our car but it's paid off now and we are debt free, we will be buying a house one day and that will be some debt for a while but I'm ok with home owners debt.
So I guess we mostly just dont spend money, that's our budget! It works well for us so far. And actually for me I would rather not carry cash because to me cash is like extra money, the debit card is like our savings so I'm MUCH less likely to use the card then cash. If I have cash I'm usually going to end up in a drive through somewhere :)
But it's all about knowing what works for you, and for me cash is a no no!

Lynda - posted on 10/10/2010

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I have a set budget that gets done every week the first thing I work out is how much money is coming in then work around that I have a set list Rent $200,00 Fuel $50.00 Food$150.00 then there's the mobile,home phone, internet, life insurance, funeral cover ,extra's cover, Austar, loan repayment, rego, daycare fees, pet food and others I sometimes have to juggle things around but usually am able to pay for everything and sometimes can put money away for christmas and birthday parties . I to use a menu to plan my shopping list which is a huge help when my husband keeps wanting to add extras to the trolley I just tell him if it's not on the list it's not going in the trolley.

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I have a household of 6. 2 grown men, me, and 3 girls. Oh, a dog and a cat too. I have a budget of $500 a month for groceries and pet food. Each pet gets $20 towards food. That leaves me $460 for the rest of the month for 6 people. It IS possible, thank you. :) I shop at "Aldi's" (local cheap grocery store) for most of our food. However, there are things that I will not compromise on and for those I have a grocery store just down the street that we go to. I work hard to find the good deals for groceries. Do I use coupons? Sadly no. I have 3 kids in tow most times and trying to remember what I had coupons for or just flat out wasting time with them is just not in me. I thrift store shop for clothes, and whatever else I can when I can. I love garage sales, and I even craigslist. I homeschool my girls, run the house, help take care of my father, and just am a person secretary for EVERYONE in my household. I sometimes long for the extra time to be able to "clip coupons" but honestly I would probably spend that time just reading a book and relaxing.

I hope our lives will help you in your in some way.

good luck and god bless

Elysia - posted on 10/07/2010

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we definetly survive on a budget. my babies are only 16months apart so they are both still in nappies. so we have to buy 2 boxes of nappies and wipes and scented bags etc my son has 1 bottle still a day so 1 tin of formula and my daughter is breastfed. but we tend to spend on average $400 dollars a fortnight on just groceries sometimes more. then you have bread and milk over the 2 weeks. then you have all the bills ie phone internet rent/mortgage electricity car etc by the end of it we dont really have a great deal left if any sometimes. we def wouldnt survive without a budget though.
But our kids always have anything they need and something they/we want for them. we ourselves as parents have made alot of sacrifices so our kids could have the best that we can provide them. I no longer get my hair or nails done, dont just pop out for lunch with the girls etc and my partner has reduced some of his hobbies like playing poker to only everynow and then.

Danette - posted on 10/07/2010

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We started listening to Dave Ramsey, he really knows his stuff! As for budgeting for groceries, I just recently learned about the food nanny! She has you plan out meals/themes for dinner each night for 2 weeks, and It helped with my grocery budget too! We were able to get food for 2 weeks for about $145.00. we will probably still end up picking up small items here and there, but her site really helped! http://www.byutv.org/foodnanny/

Kelly - posted on 10/07/2010

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Remeber budget is not a prison, but allows you to have freedom. By budgeting, you know what needs to be taken care of can be, and exactly how much you left for the things you want. It also helps you plan for when those months are a little tight, and how you can adjust you expenses. I plan out meals 2 weeks at a time, and certain paycheck are set up for different bills. Its a little daunting at first, but once you make it a habit, budgeting will become second nature. And you will have a better peace of mind knowing what needs to be taken care of has beeen taken care of. That is soooo important when you have a family of 7 like we do!
And I spend about $175 on groceries a week, it can be done, and we eat pretyy decent. Try OAWC (once a week cooking) if you got the freezer space. I am going to to attempt this on Sunday, I willl et you know how it turns out!

Lady Heather - posted on 10/07/2010

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We're just in the midst of creating our budget. It's been kind of a funny year. First we had me on mat leave and my husband working a lower paying job. Then just the lower paying job. Then a higher paying job. And now he's just got a big raise. So that's good, but it's really changed things for us and up until now it's been really hard to fix a budget. He makes good money, but we do have some debt to take care of. The goal is to have the student loans and line of credit paid off and a good savings account built up in the next three years. And we want to take a holiday somewhere sunny. Having the goals sure makes it easier to not buy useless stuff.

My hope is to spend $125 a month on groceries and personal care items. I won't go any lower because I love food too much. I meal plan and use coupons, but I'm not going to buy something I think is icky just because it's on sale. Ha. Around here most of the sales and coupons are for processed junk. I will only go so far to save a penny I guess. I do the cash thing though and I think for sure that's the best way to save. If it's not there to spend, you can't spend it! And it sure is easier to keep track of stuff.

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Thanks Amy! The only reason we were able to pay our debt so fast is that we got a huge tax return this year. Otherwise, we'd still be plugging away at it. But now we know how NOT to let money get the best of us again! I don't think we were every BAD with our money. Just not as smart as we could have been. Dave gave us the tools we needed. =) Congrats to you too on working towards financial peace!

Amy - posted on 10/07/2010

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@Sara H - Congrats to you guys! That's amazing!! We still have a ways to go because of student loans. My husband fought me tooth n nail (i'm the spender of us two n he didnt want me "telling him what to do w/ his money") but once he saw i was serious, he got onboard. We've found there's no stress when it's planned out. There's no panicking when birthdays or Xmas or renewing car plates come around. They always come the same time each year so why not be prepared. As Dave would say "a budget is telling your money what to do instead of wondering where it went" :)

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@Amy and Dawna...Dave Ramsey fan here too! We took the Financial Peace University 13 week course this year. Changes everything! We were about $20,000 in debt (student loans, lawn mower, computer) and we are scheduled to make the LAST student loan payment at the end of this week!!! I can't wait to tell the world that we are debt free! Then we'll work on that emergency fund and paying off the house. It sounds so weird, but having a budget is NOT restrictive. It's actually freeing. I feel good when I buy something, because I know I can afford it without doing harm to my family's financial well-being. We were the ones that used to pay off credit cards every month, not have a set budget because it wasn't working, etc. But Ramsey lays it all out and it's so easy to follow his system. We are looking forward to the day when we can do whatever we want, because we were smart with our money.

Sally - posted on 10/07/2010

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I don't sit down and "make a budget" BUT you can't spend more money than you have unless you want to be in trouble. Luckily, I'm good at being frugal. Even with treats for my 6 year old and the special food my baby needs for her allergies, we rarely spend more than $100 a week on food, paper goods, clothes, etc. We stock up on non-perishables when they are on sale. We belong to a couple of hand-me-down trees and I make a lot of my daughter's nicer things. I buy next year's size from the seasonal clearance racks. I buy holiday presents throughout the year as I see them on sale. We don't buy many extras, but all our needs are met. The girls are still young enough to not be caught up in the 'gotta have it because everyone else does' culture yet.

Amy - posted on 10/07/2010

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Dawna: We went to Dave Ramsey's seminar this past Feb when he was nearby and I completely agree!! Changes your life if you let him. My husband used to give me the checkbook when I went grocery shopping n I'd buy whatever I wanted, no matter what the total was. Ridiculous! We've paid off over 6000 in the last 8 mths and we encourage anyone w/ money/spending problems (or even no finance problems) to check it out. Our family n some friends are using it too. Anytime I feel like spending or don't want to work (my measley 9 hrs at the store) I listen to the cds we have of Dave and I'm rarin to go again:)



Also, having a sheet of paper on the fridge to write down what food you need as you run out helps alot w/ not having to go back to the store again during the week. You never have to try to remember what it was you ran out of.

Amy - posted on 10/07/2010

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We spend $75 a week on groceries, but we only have me, my husband and our 19 mth old daughter at the house. We always pay w/ cash and have the cashier ring up what we have to have. If there's any mony left over, we throw in the extra stuff we wanted. Coupons are our best friend:) Budgeting for everything, whether it's food, gas, entertainment or bills or even Christmas makes a huge difference in spending habits. Especially when using cash for whatever you can.

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I have to admit that the budget has been a sticky topic for us. However, in the hopes of building a home (hubby, me & our 3 girls) in the next few years as well as paying off a car this year, we have really put an extra effort to sticking to a budget. We go the cash route. We have set a certain amount of money that covers groceries, household products & miscelleneous stuff for each month. I withdraw that amount at the first of each month. If for some reason the month is not over and am need of more (which happens every now & then, but not often), than my husband & I sit down and discuss what else is needed and how much more money is required. The times this has happened has only been like an extra $100. This has been wonderful as far as communicating what is needed and being able to talk about it. The bulk of the money, about $500-$600 is used on groceries and the rest is split up between paper products for the house, taking my girls out to McD's or stuff like that. As others have mentioned, a menu is a great idea to keep track of your grocery spending and what you are going to be cooking so that food doesn't go to waste. I make a menu each week and stick to it. Friday is our pizza night & Saturdays are left overs and/or soup, salad & sandwiches. My kids get new clothes & stuff from thrift stores too. I am notorious for shopping for the following seasons so I always score on getting clearance prices for my girls and they get quite a bit for the new season next year. If you are good at gauging your kids growth/sizes than this helps out a lot. I never pay full price. To me the cash budget is the best. Never have to worry about paying something off the next month. Plus with cash, you ALWAYS think twice about something and deciding whether or not you really need it. Helps on keeping down the clutter in your house! :) Good Luck!

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Groceries is a tough one... We get some food stamps, but always end up having to spend at least 200 extra a month to survive...

Jenn - posted on 10/07/2010

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OMG - how do some of you spend so little on food? I already buy things on sale, store brands, and also shop the discount racks (bread that's close to the expiry date etc. and it's 50% off). Perhaps where you are from makes a difference in food prices? Like how much is it for 4L or a gallon of milk? Or a dozen eggs? Milk for me is about $4 and eggs are about $2.

Jessica - posted on 10/06/2010

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Our family totally does! There is just me, my husband & my 18 month old and we spend about 450.00 a month. We use cloth diapers so that helps! We have a clothing budget of $40.00 a month and gift budget too.

Megan - posted on 10/06/2010

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I don't use a budget, per se, but I'm pretty frugal about what I'm buying when I go out. I end up usually spending about $50/week on groceries (2 adults, 1 small child) I've tried using a shopping list, but i have a hard time sticking to it. Once I replenish our necessities, I usually stock up on whatever item is on the best sale. Like a 2/ $ .98 green peppers deal, and then I'll cut up and freeze whatever I can't use. Also, a big money saver is buying store brand products (i.e. - Wal-itin works just as well as Claritin!) and using coupons for any name brand item I do buy.



I will have to talk to my husband about using cash only, though . Our biggest issue is that we can both be slightly impulsive spenders, and while he's at work (which is at the mall....) he constantly swipes his debit card during coffee and lunch breaks all day. I can see how having to keep cash on hand could probably save him some spending money in the long run, since he'd have to stop and think before charging.

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On actual groceries... so not including cleaners, cat products, TP, etc; we spend about 75-100 every two weeks. I can get it down to 50. With all of the other's I try to space them out so that we only end up spending about 20 more.

We don't use paper towels anymore. We have some, we just don't use them for hand washing or face cleaning. We cut our use down by 90% maybe even more and it saves us a lot of money.

We didn't really change anything when our daughter started eating table food. In fact I found that our food bills stayed the same.

Now we are also very lucky, my dad buys my daughter's diapers. We plan on getting a Costco card soon so that we can start buying them. 212 diapers Kirkland brand costs 35 where as 160 pampers cost 45... it's worth the cost of the membership card. Our savings with diapers alone would more then pay for the card.

Heather - posted on 10/06/2010

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I used to have some friends like that. They would spend soooo much on food. Have jammed packed pantry 2 fridges and an extra freezer. But still eat out or get take out 5-6 nights a week. It was astounding

Stifler's - posted on 10/06/2010

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We're like that too. I don't know.. what do you want.? Ok let's go out for dinner. Or I'll be cooking something and he'll text me on the way home that we're going out for dinner with people from his work. Then we'd spend $70 on food and drinks and playing Keno. I enjoyed it though until we started saying no because we have to save for the wedding. We're shocking with money like that but bills and rent and food/things Logan needs have always come first.

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Jill, just a suggestion. Can you anticipate those things? If so, then plan for them in the budget. If not, have an "extra" category for those surprise things each month. If you don't use the "extra" put the money in savings or go treat yourself!

Heather - posted on 10/06/2010

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we definitely live on a budget and have for 12yrs. With only my husband working it is the only way we can function. I spend between 150 and 200$ weekly on groceries. I shop 2 store circulars I also use coupons. I get some items at Sam's.I also buy a majority of store brand and generic items. I also memorize prices at the various stores i go to so i know what is going to cost the cheapest where, BUT I just have a thing for numbers I really can't explain it. I try to make a list and I am blessed to have one particular grocery store that has really good meat and low prices on it so I go there first so I do know what I am going to be cooking for the week and buy accordingly. My groceries do include all paper products, pet needs, cleaning products, school stuff including expenses. I cook breakfast,lunch, and dinner almost everysingle day for at least 5 almost grown people.

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I *try* to use a budget... it sounds so easy, but it's not when birthday parties, book orders, school pictures, etc come up. Anyway, I use www.E-mealz.com for my meal planning. We are a family of 5 & spend around $80/week on food. I love it!

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Emma, that was totally me before I started my menu planning! It was either that or the back and forth with my husband, "what do you want for supper?" "I don't know what do you want?" We'd do that for so long and not get anything cooked that we'd end up ordering out for pizza. Now I just write my menu in the calendar and when it's time to cook, I just cook what's written there. I don't know how I lived any other way!

Shannon - posted on 10/06/2010

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My name is Shannon, I would love to be able to srick to a budget but with only my hubby working and not making very much and then he was hurt and off work of a while it made it very hard but once things get back to normal i think we will be able to manage a budget if I can keep him from spending it and it seem s that most lf the guys are that way these days at least my hubby is bad for it when we have it

Jenn - posted on 10/06/2010

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We don't really use a budget per say, but we're on a tight budget. When he gets paid, we pay the mortgage first (we pay it weekly), then there are loan payments, child support for his daughter, truck insurance, gas, home bills like phone, hydro etc., then basically whatever is left is what we can spend on groceries - which is about $150 a week and that includes diapers etc. The kids wear almost all hand-me-downs or clothes that they got as gifts from other people. I haven't bought myself new clothes in years. We have no extras - no eating out, nothing. The only "extra" I have is this - the internet. It's that or the loony bin for me as I'm literally stuck at home out in the country with no vehicle all day while he's at work. He used to make more money but lost his job a couple of years ago and it set us back pretty bad, so we're still in recovery mode. Once we get the extra debts paid off then we'll be able to live again.

Stifler's - posted on 10/05/2010

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That's a good idea I should try planning what we eat in advance coz it's always like HMM what do we have... taco shells.. crap we have no cheese *goes to shop and buys cheese* ($10) HMM I want pizza, crap we have no ham *goes and buys ham * and so on.

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oh, I get you! I recently starting making a menu every week. I swear, I'm not organized by nature. But I've found it helps...big time. Anyway, I make my menu for all meals (including snacks) for a week or two. Then write out my list based on the menu. Then go shopping. It's not 100% foolproof. I still forget baby wipes or deodorant sometimes. But making a menu first, shopping list second really helps. I promise it only takes 20 minutes.

Stifler's - posted on 10/05/2010

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I mean sticking to the budget is the hard bit lol I take a list shopping and think of more things I need along the way and then decide to make this for dinner and go get the missing ingredients and discover I have no milk left and things like that.

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Emma, have you tried budgeting in Excel? You can make a basic spreadsheet of all your expenses each month. Then just plug in the numbers. (Example: $700 under mortgage, $80 for utilities, etc.) The program does all the math for you.

Stifler's - posted on 10/05/2010

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I usually spend $120 a week at the supermarket and like Sarah, groceries means formula, nappies, baby food, our food, personal hygiene, cleaning stuff, pens, paper etc. But I always end up going back and buying more bananas or apples or milk if we run out.

Stifler's - posted on 10/05/2010

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I hate budgeting, because I suck at it. I pay the rent first and then think of what bills are due, put money in the sub account for private health and just live off the rest for the week.

Tiziana - posted on 10/05/2010

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We are on a very tight budget due to a couple of credit cards and child support to pay to my husbands former wife. So we budget $100 a week for groceries and about $200 a month for baby diapers etc..etc.. We do have money set aside but we act as it does not there.

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