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.
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 percents. Larry has been out of debt for about 30 years so I think he knows what he is doing. He also has a radio show called "How to Manage Your Money".
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 $35 to $45 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!
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.
Try Bankrate.com. They have a lot of calculators. I know for sure that they have cost of living calculators.
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