Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Welcome to the Naked Ledger!

Welcome (back!) to the Naked Ledger. I recently posted my updated budget at my other blog, mandajuice, and let's just say it was met with some interesting responses, particularly about my grocery spending.

I've posted our entire budget on the sidebar ---> but here's how we did for the month of September:
  • Booze $100, SPENT $98.29
  • Clothes $200, SPENT $181.52
  • Dining Out $150, SPENT $164.69
  • Entertainment $100, SPENT $84.85
  • Food $700, SPENT $697.90
  • Gas/Auto $350, SPENT $395.48
  • Household $300, SPENT $335.55
  • Kids $50, SPENT $51.63
  • Other $50, SPENT $7.55
  • TOTAL $2,000, total SPENT $2,017.46
We only went over by $17.46, which is honestly the best we've done in over a year! Go me! (or rather, go SPEND app for the iphone! That was .99 cents well spent!) This month is going to be way more expensive, though. For two reasons: Alex's birthday party and Halloween. We'll be getting to that later this week, for sure.

This October I'm going to be focusing on my grocery budget of $700 per month. Part of sticking to the budget is that at the end of the month, our cupboards are TOTALLY BARE. I've had to make lunch for Dave for the past two days because he would look into the fridge and go, "What the hell, Woman? There's NO FOOD!" So I used our last half dozen eggs to make egg salad for one day and gave him leftover pasta the next. Yesterday there was absolutely NOTHING left, so I went to the store and decided to just start the month's spending a day early. I had already also been to Target on Monday and done some household shopping (we were totally out of toilet paper!).

At Target, I spent $37.71 on food. I buy our coffee at Target since it's the only place I can find it, so that was over $25 right there and should last more than a month. That $37.71 also included some candy since I can't resist the Halloween candy, gah! but I used a $1.00 off coupon and got two bags for $3! I think I also bought some frosting for Alex's birthday cake and a gallon of milk too.

On the same trip I also bought some clothes for Genoa. I finally went through her dresser and realized she only fit into about four long-sleeved shirts, one of which was stained with chocolate milk. So I bought her 3 pairs of pants with 3 matching shirts, spending a whopping $4 on each piece for a total of $25.97.

(I also let Genoa pick out a present for her brother's birthday and also bought a couple of items to make a Halloween decoration project. More on those expenses later this week after Dave and I have decided on a specific Halloween budget.)

Yesterday I picked Alex up from preschool ($145 a month, not included in the budget above because it's not "discretionary", it's mandatory) and we headed straight to Winco to stock up on food. Now, I'm a HUGE price shopper. I buy certain things at certain stores because we buy too much food to be able to take advantage of one stop shopping. I have to be more careful with prices. I buy meat, some cheeses, organic pop tarts and Splenda at Costco and I try to buy everything else either at Winco or Wal-Mart. It's only when I'm feeling lazy or I have good coupons that I shop at Fred Meyer.

So here's what my extremely short list looked like when I left the house:
Actually, that was the list after I got back to the house, hence the crossed off items. In case you can't read my writing, it lists:
green beans
other fruit
pomegranate-lemonade (great for cocktails!)
cheap meat?
parm(esan cheese)

That coupon peeking up out of the back was for $1.00 off three bags of Reece's candy, which I purchased and then forgot to to use the coupon. For the record, the first thing I did when we got to Winco was to purchase a slice of cheese pizza and a water for the kids for $2.68. Alex had FRIGHTENINGLY low blood sugar and it was either feed him or start digging his grave because he was GOING TO DIE OF HUNGER.

Anyway, this is what my receipt looked like, since I obviously found LOTS of stuff that was not on my list:
(Click on the photos to go to Flickr and get a better view. I took these pictures with my iPhone, so sorry for the crappy quality.)

Things I stocked up on because the price was right:
bread, 4 loaves at $1.88 each (usually $3.50 at Fred Meyer at full price or 2 for $5 on sale!)
tortillas, 40 count for $5.34 (I stuck them in the freezer in 10 count zip lock bags)
chili for Dave's lunches, $1.42 a can (never under $2 a can at Fred Meyer)
pasta sauce, $1.49 per jar ($2.22 at Fred Meyer last time I bought it there)

The only cheap meat I found was a bag of frozen pre-formed hamburgers, which I like to keep around for the nights I forget to defrost anything (like last night when I was supposed to take a whole chicken out of the freezer before going to bed and forgot! I remembered first thing this morning, but it won't be defrosted by the time I need to cook dinner). Cheeseburgers it is!

Admittedly, I did spend $7 on bulk mushrooms, but my plan is to make shepherd's pie with those and I always make at least one extra for the freezer. Also, Dude. We love mushrooms, so there's nothing to apologize for.

I'll be heading to Coscto tomorrow to buy meat, since all I have left in the freezer is a whole chicken and those hamburger patties. This is going to be an expensive week, but I'm buying a lot of things that will last us a while and I'm definitely saving us money buy purchasing bulk when the price is right.

Coming later this week:
* A Q&A about choosing a financial planner
* Halloween and birthday party spending
* My take on the BAILOUT (beware, it's not going to be NICE)
* A breakdown of what each category includes
* A discussion about what I will and won't feed my family, no matter how much it costs


HeatherK said...

The only thing I would do differently is change the way you write your grocery lists so you start off with produce and then list things in groups as you would find them as you walk around the store.

Stocking up really helps as does never having empty cupboards. There is usually one week a month I can skip the big trip and just buy milk/produce/bread when I have enough meat and staples on hand.

So glad you put this back...always interesting to peek over someone else's shoulders!

Ellen said...

SO glad you're blogging about personal finance again. consider it added to my blog reader!

Brea said...

Yea! So glad the Naked Ledger is back! I've missed you blogging about your spending -- it was always very insightful for me to compare your family's spending to ours.

Sally said...

Glad to see this is back. I really enjoy it, mainly because we go through as much food a week as you guys do...even when we're on diets! It makes me feel better to know we're not alone.

We buy different things than you, but the end result is the same. It just takes a small fortune to keep my boys fed. I shudder to think how much they're going to eat 10 years from now when they're teenagers.

I spend over $50 a week on fresh fruits and veggies (the cheapest I can find!) just for snacks. I still always have to convince the boys that raisins are edible on the last day of the week after they've eaten everything else. It's so hard to keep food in our house, but I don't really want to replace the healthy whole foods with cheaper processed stuff.

Jenni said...

Glad to see the NL back!
Can't wait to hear your take on the "BAILOUT"- let's hear it!

Patty said...

Looking forward to seeing how you categorize things. Am curious about what you onsider "household" and "entertainment". At our home, we lump dining out in with entertainment. Curious to see how you do it! Thanks.

Ali said...

First off, I love that you put booze as the first item in your discretionary budget! Who cares if it really comes first alphabetically, it's #1 for a reason!

Can't wait to keep reading, I've missed it!

March said...

thank you for opening up this discussion.
I noticed you mentioned that you bought milk in target, that usually is more expensive than if you buy it at the grocery store, I normally buy 2 gallons for $5 in Safeway (I too am in WA).
why do you choose to buy it at target? that is a question not a criticism... I've bought it twice there in the past 4 months and it was cause I was trying to save myself a trip to the grocery store, but in the end I'd need to go to the grocery store a day or two later and I would have saved on the milk.

Kristy said...

Preschool is not mandatory no matter how much I think education matters...preschool is a choice but no child will not die without it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Kristy, that's your opinion. Some families think preschool is mandatory. You don't link your blog on your profile, do you have children?

jonniker said...

I swore I left a comment professing my Naked Ledger love earlier, but now see it is not here. I'm so sorry!

I. Love. The. Naked. Ledger. Thank you for bringing it back!

Tana said...

So excited your sharing your insight with us all. Way to be so open and honestly!! Looking forward to all of this weeks coming topics!!!

Carrie said...

So glad you are doing this again! I have missed it! Thank you!! I have added it to my google reader and can't wait for updates!

1hottiredmama said...

I love the Naked Ledger. I'm so glad to see it back.

BTW -- I am totally loving Spend. I put it on my iTouch after you posted about it and it is really helping me stay on track. It definitely keeps my budget in my mind and close by so I can check my spending.

I understand what a previous poster means about preschool, but for us also it is a mandatory expense. By that I mean that we definitely make it a priority and because it's a fixed amount we include it in our budget with things like our mortgage and car payment. It is not considered flexible spending to us.

Carrie said...

Fabulous! I have missed The Naked Ledger so much! Thank you.