The Great Grocery Cycle

One of our biggest challenges is controlling food cost.  I believe that this is an area we can improve.  The struggle is around consistent meal planning an trips to the grocery store.  It’s easy to neglect because there is a convenient alternative available (dining out).  This is likely a common occurrence amongst our peers (though I’m not sure everyone considers it a problem).

We budget $800 per month for groceries and household supplies.  I also budget $240 per month for dining out.  That’s around one restaurant trip per week for our family of four (sit down type as we rarely do fast food).  So far this year, we should have spent $4800 on groceries and $1440 on restaurants.  Instead, we’re currently at $5300 on groceries and $4200 on restaurants!

One would think that if we neglected grocery runs and dined out instead that we would see groceries come in under budget.  What happens though, is that by not having a weekly meal plan we end up doing on demand grocery runs to pick up things for the next day or two.  This leads to inefficiency and a propensity to buy impulse items.

We definitely dine out much more than we should given our budget.  It’s very easy to fall into the trap of convenience when we’re both tired from the day and unprepared for dinner time.  It’s even easier when we know we can afford it.  The problem is that we’re throwing away money that we could be investing in our financial freedom and getting closer to our canoe dock lifestyle.

New 2015 Goal:  Cut the dining out expenses in half.  $2100 or less.

Here we go!



2015 Mid-Year Update

So, I have to be better about posting regularly.  It’s been over a month.  I bet you see that a lot.

I wanted to get an update out about how we’re doing mid-year compared to the goals I set out earlier.  I’ve been keeping track of my monthly cash flow for the past three months and back filled it for the first quarter.

Here are the financial goals and our corresponding status:

  • Reduce overall outstanding debt (including mortgage) by 10%.
    1. At the end of June, my overall debt reduction is 6.68%
    2. Based on interest calculations and assumption of sustained payment amounts, we’re on track for 9.66% reduction by year end
  • Make contributions to investments (taxable and retirement) of 10% of salary.
    1. So far our combined saving in investment accounts is 10.83% of income.  This includes 401k, IRA, ESPP.
    2. I got a small raise on July 1st and increased my ESPP contribution by another 2% to balance the addition to the paycheck.
  • Eliminate any monthly interest payments due to credit cards.
    1. We paid $348 in interest in Q1 which was residual to the last account that held a balance.  It was paid off in February
    2. We paid 0$ in interest in Q2!  This is the first time in my adult life that I haven’t paid credit card interest!  Crazy that I let it go this long.

I also want to note that June was our lowest expense month of the year so far even with an unexpected $636 dental bill.  This was accomplished primarily through limiting dining out and being more careful about grocery planning.