$100. That’s our budget each week for our family of three, including a teenage boy. And we each take our lunch to school or work nearly every day. By my calculations, we’re saving between $1,800 and $8,000 per year compared to many families our size. We eat very well. On that $100 a week, we’re eating delicious, nutritious, well-rounded meals with enough left over for lunches.
How I calculated our savingsYou can use the U.S. Agriculture Department’s cost of food at home chart http://bit.ly/CostofFoodAtHomeChart to see how you compare to other families. There are four spending levels – Thrifty, Low-cost, Moderate-cost and Liberal – that account for age, gender and family size.
For the thrifty plan, an average family of three with a teenage boy spends $135.77 each week. At $100 per week, we save more than $1,800 each year compared to the thriftiest families and an astronomical $8,000 more than the liberal shoppers. Sometimes we go over our $100 budget, so our real spending may be a little closer to the Thrifty average but nowhere near the Liberal plan.
What food plan are you on?Determine how much you spent last month at the grocery store. Then use the cost of chart to compare your spending to the four different grocery store spending levels.
The average AmericanThe Bureau of Labor Statistics data gives us some insight into the average American’s spending on groceries in an article called “How the Average US Consumer Spends Their Paycheck,” http://bit.ly/PaycheckDWesley by Daniel Wesley. Spending on food comes in third behind transportation and housing with $6,602 spent on food, $3,977 on food eaten at home and $2,625 on meals and snacks away from home.
Based on the average income before taxes of $63,784 cited, grocery spending takes up 6.2 percent of the average household’s earnings. That means a family who spends liberally on groceries, $13,328.12, would have an expected annual income of nearly $215,000.
You can use the same calculation to check your grocery spending. Multiply your weekly grocery spending by 52 weeks to get your annual spending. Then divide by 0.062 to find the corresponding expected income.
Next month, I’ll show you how we manage to keep our grocery budget to just $100 a month.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.