Elise from Kelowna, British Columbia writes:
Hi Tawra and Jill,
My husband and I are saving hard for a mortgage down-payment and we are trying to stick to a budget, but I don’t know what is an appropriate amount of money to allot for food per month. I try to get everything on sale and in bulk, as well as utilizing free sources of fruit and vegetables. (Here in the Okanagan they are all over!) Could you give me some advice about this? It is just the two of us — we have no children yet.
Thank you for the help, and also thank you for this inspiring website. I always read your articles and they boost my resolve to be as frugal as I can while still living life richly.
Thanks again, Elise
Hi Elise! Well, first let me tell you that we’re jealous that we don’t live in the Okanagan. From what we’ve seen of it, it’s beautiful country up there!
The answer to your question depends on a lot of factors. I can’t really give you a dollar amount because the price of food varies from state to state and from the US to Canada. When Mike and I were living alone we spent $125 a month on groceries (US dollars). My best advice is each day or week think about where you can cut a little more from your bill. No matter how much you cut, there is only so far you can go. Eventually you will get to an average point and the will be a steady bill for you. Then focus on how you can save in other areas.
Generally, if you cut out the convenience foods and go to restaurants as little as possible you will be well on the way. Since you are saving extra hard right now, I would cut out all of the restaurant trips except maybe on your anniversary and try for no expensive convenience foods. Then, when you have saved what you want to save, ease up on those things a little if you like. Also, keep in mind that it may be worth it at times to use convenience foods if you have an opportunity to make more money with the time you save. For example, if you and your husband can work some overtime this week and it pays well, but it eliminates the time you have to prepare meals for the week, it might be worth buying some TV dinners. Still, whenever possible, I’d prepare some freezer meals ahead of time when things are slow to make up for the time you may not have later.
It sounds like you are well on your way to getting it as low as you can. I hope you get your down payment quickly!
photo by: Masahiro