Monday, December 5, 2011
Grocery bill high? It could be worse.
How much money does your household spend on groceries in a month? Probably a whole lot less than someone who has kids.
I was out with my friend Sara on Saturday. She's a mom of 2 young boys, so her household has 4 people total. We were talking about money and how expensive everything is these days. She lamented that her $800/month grocery budget makes it almost impossible to keep her family fed for an entire month. I almost choked.
I thought I was hearing incorrectly, so I repeated back the figure she told me to make sure I heard right. Yep, I heard right. $800 a month. For groceries.
When she saw how shocked I was, she clarified that the $800 figure includes things like paper products and cleaning supplies. I guess she thought that hearing that might make my eyes recede back into their sockets. I was still shocked.
You see, hubby and I spend about $200-$300 a month to keep ourselves and our three cats fed, and that seems like a LOT to us. So you can see why I almost fell off my chair when Sara told me she spends $800/month and can barely get by on that.
$800 JUST for groceries. That's $9,600 a year! For ONE expense. Now on top of that, add on the other household expenses like mortgage, taxes, utilities, cars, insurance, clothing and the list goes on and on. And factor in that my friend is a stay-at-home-mom, so she and her hubby are living off one salary. Yikes.
I should mention that Sara is a not a spendthrift. She's a frugal shopper, carries piles of coupons with her everywhere she goes, and strategizes her shopping trips to get the most for her money. Yet she is struggling to feed her family on $800/month.
Hubby and I often complain about our expenses - about how so much of our take home pay is eaten up by bills and how so little is left for the fun stuff. Well, I think we need to adjust our perspective and remind ourselves how easy we have it, comparatively speaking. I realize that no matter how financially stretched we fell, we would probably be on the verge of financial collapse if we had children.
I had lunch with another friend today, Samantha. Samantha also has a family of 4 - a husband, a 10 year old daughter and a teenaged son. She is a prudent woman who is good with money (in fact, she is an accountant by trade). We were talking about money issues and about how prices have been shooting up for everything. I asked her to estimate what she spends on groceries for her family in one month. She paused and gave it some thought, and then answered that if she "is really careful" - i.e. shops the sales, and is strategic in her buying - she can "keep it at around $1,200/month".
She said a lot of the grocery bill is due to having a teenaged son who eats whole boxes of cereal in one sitting, and drinks 2 gallons of milk per week on his own.
And now, she is struggling to figure out how to help him with college. He's applying to engineering schools - his choice school having tuition in the area of $45,000 per year. Although he has been awarded scholarships in the amount of of $20,000 per year, that leaves my friend and her husband with a tuition bill of $25,000/year.