Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Virtual Classroom: Grocery Shopping 102

part 2 in a series.
If you've been to one of my grocery shopping classes this may sound familiar. That's because it is the presentation that I do there, with a few tweaks. Hopefully you'll find something new and useful.

In Grocery Shopping 101 we talked a bit about why someone who wants to save money or decrease their monthly expenditures would choose to slash their grocery bill and why, in fact, the grocery bill is the the easiest of all monthly bills to drastically cut. I told you why I do it and encouraged you to pinpoint your motivation for doing so also.

In Grocery Shopping 102 we will move on to discover how much the average American Family spends on groceries each month, I will encourage you to figure out how much you spend and lastly I will reveal just how much I spend every month on groceries for my little family of six.

According to a CNN/Money article from 2002 the "average American 'consumer unit' -- defined as a family, a single person who's financially independent or two people living together who share major expenses -- spends $38,050 a year." of that about $5,150 or so is spent on food. Broken down to monthly expenses that is $430 per month for an average 'consumer unit' of 2.5 people equals $172 per month, per person for food. Do you have four in your family? That would be $688/mo. Do you have six in your family? That would be $1032/month. Wow! I think that is pretty high. What do you think (remember these numbers are from clear back in 2002!)?

The USDA doesn't necessarily think that is high. The United States Department of Agriculture heads up food guidelines for government programs and studies that food habits of the American people rigorously, among other things. Every month they put out the "Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels,U.S. Average", numbers that are used to determine such things as welfare benefits. They suggest that a family of four who are being thrifty spend an average of around $700/month. Using their formula I figured they would have me spending about $809/month for my family of six. I still think that is high.

As I talk to friends and family, people at church and in my workshops I like to ask what they spend. The average amount I usually hear is somewhere around $75-100 per family member per month, much lower than the previous two examples. So now I'll ask you, what do you spend a month on groceries? Does it seem high? Does it fit in with the averages provided by CNN and the USDA or are you more in line with the numbers that I have found in my informal research?

Now I bet your wondering where I really fit in in all this and why I think I can write about saving on groceries. {Some of you regular readers already know the secret that I am going to pop} This is why I can write about saving on groceries: I spend no more than $250 per month on groceries to feed my family of six. We are an active and healthy family. My husband and I have four kids ages 13, 11, 9 and 6. We eat healthy food: meat, veggies, breads and snacks. We have plenty to eat and have a full pantry and freezer funded by the monthly $250. Believe it or not that $250 also pays for most of our toiletries, first aid, paper products and cleaners too.

Are you in shock? I hope not. Do you want to know more? I hope so! Stick around and read Grocery Shopping 103 in which I'll get you started on the first steps of how to lower your grocery budget. I am not expecting that you are going to want to do everything the same as me or lower your budget as much as I have so this is not going to be a finger-wagging, guilt-ridden list of you-must-do's. Instead we'll take a look at a few easy steps that anyone--ANYONE--can employ to lower their grocery bills to achieve their financial goals. {doesn't that sound exciting and a little far-reaching!}

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