Personal Finance

The lies I have been telling myself

As I am gearing up for the kids to return back to school and all the expenses that come with our regular/non-summer lives, I have been trying to rework our budget. (Yes, again. I am now very comfortable with the fact that our budget constantly changes). I have had a nagging feeling recently that something does not add up, but have blamed it on the irregularities in our budget that come with summer including travel and camps.

Today, I decided to take a look at our food expenses lines which currently total $1,000. $700 is budgeted for monthly groceries and $300 is allocated my husband’s ridiculous eating out lunch daily habit. I began to wonder if $700 was not enough given the amount of gluten free/vegan items we buy for my son’s diet. Using mint.com, I reviewed our grocery spending for the last six months. I was a bit surprised at what I saw:

Groceries

A very different picture than what I have been thinking we have spent on groceries! Except for March (when my in-laws stayed with us for 2 weeks), our monthly groceries is less than what we have in our budget. I was super confused by these numbers. If has been the truth, why isn’t there an extra $100-$150 in a budget each month? If these numbers are true, where are the leftover funds? Numbers don’t lie. I decided to further explore this perplexing situation and look at our overall food expenses. What I discovered made me sick to my stomach. I expected to see about $300 a month on eating out based on what I thought my husband typically spends a month. Here’s what I found instead:

Eating out

Are you kidding me?! WTH! These numbers make NO sense. How in the world did we spending $834 on eating out on May without me even realizing it?! That’s ridiculous! I am extremely upset and baffled that I have been lying to myself all this time. Perhaps my husband is really spending more than I thought he was. Or maybe quick trips to fast food places on the way back from school really add up! I have no idea, but I am definitely going to address this! I am super annoyed but glad I uncovered this huge leak.

So where do I go from here? First, I have decided to set a food budget of $600 since the average was $584 for the last six months. I am going to try to use cash only for July and August to really stick to this. I am also going to closely monitor my husband’s eating out as well. I am going to show him these numbers. Hopefully he will have the same disgusted reaction as I did! I am also going to continue my “fast food” fast that I did in June. It will be a little harder when the kids get back, but I am going to keep this graphic handy to remind myself of all the better ways we could be spending money. Lastly, I will use this blog to hold myself accountable. Ugh! What a mess!

On better notes, I was proud of my shopping trip today where I spent exactly $40.20. I had budgeted 40 bucks for the trip. Yes, I was $.20 over, but that was good considering I actually put 4 items back! Had I not been using cash, I probably would have spent $55-60. Also, June was pretty awesome. I am glad my husband agreed to the challenge of no fast food or buying lunches. I wish every month could look that great!

Have you ever discovered that you were doing horribly in an area of your budget when you thought you were doing great?

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19 thoughts on “The lies I have been telling myself

  1. Yes. After we got out out debt, managing the grocery budget got harder. We struggled with keeping the groceries and eating out budget line item in check. We still do to some extent, but its gotten better. Now that you know where your budget is not working for your family, it will be easier to fix. Glad you found this out soon. don’t beat yourself over it though. I think eating out is something that many people struggle with but few would take the time to do this exercise

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  2. Wow! Sorry to hear there was such a huge leak right under your nose! But better to find out sooner than later! The amount he spends on himself for lunch is the amount you spend on your family – I hope upon hearing that and seeing the proof that your husband realises that is ridiculously excessive (although I realise some of it may be fast food after school like you suggested).
    I purchased a budget spreadsheet from The Budgeting Tool by blogger Save Spend Splurge many years ago and meticulously input every single receipt and track every dollar. Even with doing so, it took me several years to correct some bad habits with leaks or justifying spending. Knowledge is power. You’re on the right track, and now would be a perfect time to build momentum on getting the budget right 🙂 good luck!

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  3. My food budget is the bane of my existence, but the last 2 months have been great since I switched to cash only for food purchases. Now that I can physically see what’s left, I’m far less likely to stop for food on my way home. Good luck!

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  4. Our eating out budget always is more than we budget. We have made changes but it still creeps in – friends asking us to join them, etc. Like you noticed, when we have company for more than a few hours, our grocery bill skyrockets. I’m embarrassed to admit we spent $794.68 on food out in June. Granted, we were traveling most of the month and visiting kiddo #2, but it is still more than the $600 we budgeted knowing those were happening. CRAZY!!

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  5. Food is also a category in our budget that’s a little out of control. Everytime we go out it’s so tempting to grab a coffee / donut / ice cap, and maybe some food if we’re hungry. Our budgeting tool definitely keeps us honest, and I visit the numbers often to remind ourselves of our spending. Staying in helps a lot, proper planning (packing a lot of snacks and water if we were to go out) also works wonders. Good luck and hope things improve for you guys!

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    1. Last year, I was always on the go with the kids. I’m hoping to change that this years. Although, I just made a list of activities and there are like 5 different activities each! lol Clearly I haven’t learned my lesson.

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  6. What a discovery! Good for you for being so diligent in your detective work (and thank goodness for budget tracking software!) I also fall prey to minimizing the effects eating out will have on my budget–yet it adds up so quickly! I can only imagine what it must be like with a family. To counteract overspending, I keep a running tally of what I’ve spent throughout the month and have a hard “stop” point; if I reach that amount, that’s it: no more eating out, no more coffee runs, no more groceries (I eat what’s in the pantry already) in order to keep things from getting too out of control. I used to let mint remind me when I went over budget, but I found those reminders a little too easy to ignore, haha.

    Enjoying your site–keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I still can’t believe it though. I am definitely going to employ the “hard stop” in our budgeting moving forward. I too have a budget through mint.com, but I haven’t set up notifications. Maybe I should…or then again, I might ignore too.

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  7. Our grocery bill is over the top too. We have a family of 3 and then a family of 4 the weeks we have my step daughter. We rarely eat out and I can not seem to get below $180-$200 a WEEK. Granted, we eat Paleo, I shop the market sales, eat all leftovers, pack my lunch (ALL the time), shop from a list and menu plan in advance. If organic broccoli is on sale for $2.99 a bunch, I will buy it, if it’s not on sale at $4.99 a bunch, I stock up on spinach that week instead, etc… I would love to hear how other people deal with rising cost of food.

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    1. It’s crazy how much food cost. You at least seem to be making healthier choices with your groceries. I think I would feel better if I could justify the greater increase of funds as us eating better. I plan to make groceries and food a top priority in August so I hope you stay tune to my food adventures!

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  8. You’re right that groceries and eating out are a huge budget suck. I couldn’t get my husband to understand that both of us shopping was killing us.

    Our answer was YNAB. It doesn’t tell you what you did. It tells you what you can do. You can check it from your phone before you walk into the store. You sit in your car with the receipt after you leave the store and enter it. It subtracts the amount you enter from what you can spend. You and your husband can both check your own phones before spending more.

    It got our budget under control. The “want to” was easy because we have better uses for thousands of dollars than handing it over to Kroger just to see it spoil. We eat organic, gluten-free, etc. all for $125 a week for 2 people. That includes paper products and cleaning supplies. It’s become a game for us to eat right and stay under budget.

    If DH ate out with an agreed budget, it would still work. I’d just set up a YNAB category for his lunches and allocate the money. Once it’s gone, you either pack a lunch or use your personal spending money.

    The thing I love the most is he doesn’t have to ask me if he can spend the money he earns (I’m a stay at home wife). He set up the budget with me so it’s his thing. He checks his phone and he updates his spending. It got him to buy in because he can see I’m not out overspending either.

    YNAB is the bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I need to look into YNAB. I tried it last year but I don’t think I gave it enough time to work (or change my life completely lol). Not sure my husband would be as attentive as yours though.

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