Wednesday, August 24, 2011

$125 per week?

Eight weeks in and my grocery budget is so out the window.  I used to try to keep my weekly shopping list under $60 but since we've been in Hawaii it has been a lot more.  How much more?  I'm not quite sure.  I haven't been keeping close track, at least not weekly I haven't.  I have been building a spreadsheet of what I've spent though; a detailed report of what items I have purchased at what price. This is the beginnings of my new Hawaii Price List. Unfortunately a few receipts were misplaced before I had a chance to input them and that is why I don't have an exact total for what I've spent.

The total that I DO have is $591.09. One of the receipts that was misplaced was a Costco receipt--that was a big one--and two other reciepts were from Foodland.  A fourth receipt was from WalMart.  I think the likely amount unaccounted for in the spreadsheet is about $400.  So I am estimating that in the eight weeks that I have been here in Hawaii I have spent about $900 on groceries and probably another $100 on toiletries and personal care items.  $1000 divided by 8 weeks is $125 per week. I think this is how much I've spent.

Though $125 per week is double what I used to pay I take some solace in reminding myself that I have had to start from scratch, I haven't had any coupons, and I'm still working on learning the best places and times to shop here.

Starting from scratch, I'd like to remind you, means that I have had to buy spices like pepper and cinnamon.  I have had to purchase vanilla and baking powder and baking soda and salt and flour and corn meal.  I didn't have any sauces or mixes or cans or boxes or bags of anything.  I had to get plastic wrap and aluminum foil and lunch sacks and baggies.  I had to get all this and more and I HAD to get it now.  I couldn't wait for a better price because I had a family to feed and a house to run. These have-to-have purchases will slowly taper off over the next month or so.  I expect that taper to be reflected in my shopping expenses as well probably reducing it by 15%.

I haven't had any coupons here because I have been avoiding ordering a subscription to the Star Advertiser newspaper.  The Advertiser requires you to purchase either a daily subscription or a Weekend--Friday, Saturday, Sunday--subscription.  No Sunday only orders.  All I want is Sunday, really, all I want is the coupons.  The price of a daily subscription is $20/month.  The price of a weekend subscription is $13/month. The cost of an individual Sunday paper is $2.  I'd rather spend $8/month for just what I want. But then there is another problem: none of the stores in Laie are open on Sunday and so none of them get the Sunday paper.  Unlike Washington they don't sell the Sunday paper all week long. So, to get the coupons I would have to drive 3 miles down the road every Sunday and spend $2 (big frown); I am not a Sunday shopper.  I think I'd rather print all my coupons from online.  I'll be purchasing a new printer tomorrow. I think I can save another 10% using online coupons.

Knowing when and where to shop is a big deal anywhere but here, I am finding, it is essential.  Though it is a college town I live way out in the country.  I am an hour away from Costco, WalMart, Target, a shopping mall and any other big box store.  It is imperative that I learn to plan my shopping to an extreme.  Any last minute or forgotten items that I end up buying at the local grocery store may end up costing me 50-100% more than I would pay in town. Same goes for clothes, auto and home repair products and everything else. But that doesn't mean that I'll always find the best price in town. And that certainly doesn't mean that driving into town just to get a few items will save me money--it costs me about $20 in gas every time I go in. To save I am learning that certain days of the week the local farmers have sales and the local grocery has clearance and locals hold garage sales and that some items in the local stores do go on decent sales occasionally. I think I can save another 5% or so by knowing when and where to shop.

I think I can save another 5% each week with my container garden.  We are already eating lettuce and green onions from the garden and I have used some of my fresh basil and mint and oregano too. I will soon have some ripe tomatoes, we are growing cantaloupe, cucumbers and many other yummy produce items. With a head of lettuce costing at least $2 per head I think 5% is a reasonable guesstimate.

After all that reasoning and math I come up with a potential savings of 35%.
35% of $125 is $43.75
$81.25 or under will be my grocery budget target.


  1. Aloha! This is my first time checking in since you moved to Hawaii and it looks like you are having fun! Glad to see you are still budgeting and planning - I learn so much from you! Your container gardens sound interesting - have you done a post on those?

  2. Good Luck! We spend an average of $200/week on grocery and Costco purchases and my family still complains that we don't have any food :p But it sound like you have lots of great savings skills. I will have to check back and get ideas from you.


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