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I'm trying to set up a budget for my family and would like to know how much an average family of four spends on groceries every month in the Southeastern U.S.? And does this include personal items, cleaning items and toiletries? Is there a general rule of thumb, such as not spending more than a certain percentage of net income? I can't find the answers to these questions anywhere and would really appreciate your input.
On Line Financial Resource
I have a web site I use a lot for this. It is Crown.org. This is Larry Burkette's online budget you can use for free. It tells you in dollars and percentages. Larry Burkette is gone now, but he was well known and the site is still helpful.
Grocery Budgeting with the Help of Tightwad
We are a family of five. I have a 12-year-old son who eats continuously, a nine-year-old girl and a one year old that eats almost nothing! I have recently decided to try to get my grocery bill as low as possible and use the surplus to pay off a credit card. I have been averaging $70 to $90 a week for the past two months. This includes cleaning, paper products, etc (except makeup). I found the best books on this are the Tightwad Gazettes and a small booklet called "The $30 a Week Grocery Budget" by Donna McKenna. I cook nearly everything from scratch. We have muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, etc. for breakfast. I pack lunches for my two older kids and husband. They have a sandwich, fruit or veggies, cookie and drink. Dinner is meat purchased on sale and chili or soup once a week. I have found a wonderful grocery store called "Save A Lot". I buy most of my stuff there and shop once a month at Wal-Mart and Sam's. I am happily watching my credit card balance fall every month!
Figure Out Your Personal Grocery Budget
Don't worry about the "average" family. Find out what you spend on your family. Fold a piece of paper into eight boxes with one for you and one for your spouse. Keep this in your purse or wallet. Write down everything you spend on a daily basis such as trips to fast food, coffee & candy bars etc. Keep your receipts, too. At the end of the week total each category. Then in about two to four weeks see what you average. Then sit down and see if there are any areas you can cut back. How much do you spend each week for "fast coffee"? Could you make coffee at home and save that way? Get the kids involved planning and shopping. See if you can lower your expenses and plan great meals. Make it fun.
A Bank With Calculators
Try Bankrate.com. They have a lot of calculators. I know for sure that they have cost of living calculators.
Updated September 2013
Take the Next Step
- Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
- Continue to look for new ways to trim food costs. Visit our food & groceries section each week to get tips for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
- Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!