Tightwad results for 2010

Yikes!  I just ran our year-end expense report on Quicken.  No, we don’t run a business, and yes, we track our personal account like a cat-4 hurricane. 

Anywhoozit, at the end of every year, I use Quicken to run an expense report by category to see where we spent our money.  It’s also pretty neat-o (or terrifying) to compare it to the previous year. 

You think you don’t spend much on groceries or eating out each week or month, but add that up over a year my friend!  Yoowzer!  Maybe it’s because we started 2010 with a pay raise when my honey was promoted to First Class?  Whatever the reason, it is definitely a hard pill to swallow to admit to spending more in 2010 on groceries than we did in 2009.  But the upside is that we spent nearly 10% less on dining out.

My husband’s response to the information that we spent more on groceries?   “Whoa, maybe you’re not as cheap as you think you are.”  Ouch.  To get a better idea as to how much more was spent…it’s roughly 40% more…and I know that the price of food didn’t go up that much.  Some of it is to blame on sales tax; yes, I’m going there.  OR has no sales tax, and LA carries nearly 8%.  So I’m blaming a very small portion of that increase on sales tax. 

The rest of that though?  Who knows… 

To really figure out how much less we will need to spend in the dining out and grocery categories, I had to figure out our monthly average.  After the nausea resides, and I am able to stomach looking at the numbers again, I can figure out some realistic cutbacks.  Dining out is simple.  But I’ll get back to you once I figure out how to realistically cut back on groceries for this family.  I swear my two oldest have hollow legs that they are currently filling with food…

Grocery cutbacks (without cutting back on food quality and having enough) will take some trial and error.  I know for sure that I will be fishing more local sale ads to ensure my local store will honor the competitor prices.

Now that the year of wild food spending is coming to a close, I am excited to try new ways to save a buck.  Our vacation savings goal has almost been met, which means it is about time to focus our efforts on saving for a down payment on a car for my husband.  Thankfully, his champagne taste works well with my tap water budget.

So the lesson/reminder here?  Just because we make more, does not mean it’s time to spend more.  So laugh on husband…laugh on…I’ll show you who’s wallet can be clamped shut tighter than a bad clam!

Until next year…

Holiday shop-a-pa-looza

What is wrong with me when I think that going grocery shopping the day before Christmas is a smart idea?

Because I am a competitor’s ad toting, coupon waiving, off brand shopper, I like to go to the store that will offer the best discounts.  And evidentally, so does everybody else.  To be honest, my original dumb thought was that on the morning before Christmas, everyone would be at home and I’d be free to shop at least until the other shoppers got out of their PJs and out the door by the afternoon! 

I can’t remember the last time I believed something so whole-heartedly, only to be shot down when I turned into the parking lot.  Oh yeah, and I thought taking the baby along for the ride would be a splendid idea! 

Okay, so the baby part didn’t turn out to be a bad idea.  If anything, he kept me entertained while I waited to compare prices on barbecue sauce ($1.49?  Seriously?  No…I’ll just make some at home, thank you).  And he even kept me from shouting an expletive or two whenever the latest cart pusher ran into my achilles.

Even in all the mayhem, when I got to the checkout I had my grocery bags ready for the checker, a giant stack o’ coupons, and the competitor’s ads so that I could save an extra .07 cents on my bread.

We can really see what we are made of as penny-pinchers when the heat is on, and the three customers behind you start sighing heavily and rolling their eyes as you double-check the sale price on the those crackers.

Happy pinching!

No Fast Food December…The Hump

Okay, so here we are half way through the month…

So far, we have eaten at a sit down restaurant once (awesome Mexican food)…and had pizza delivery once (it was late, I was tired).  I’m pretty sure that under a general consensus, the pizza counts as fast food.  For the most part, it’s been pretty easy considering I am a stay-at-homer that doesn’t really look forward to leaving the base we live on. 

There are no fast food places (as of yet) on our base, making it even easier.  Our new commissary will open up in February though, along with a food court that will no doubt include brand name fast food.

So for now, we are all doing okay.  In the end, it isn’t about avoiding fast food all together, I think it’s really a lesson in moderation for the nutritional value, and as a means to really see just how expensive convenience can be.

16 more days…