food costs challenge – june 2019 report

It’s time for the first full month report for our Food Costs Challenge! June was just about spot on for our target restaurant/fast food spend!

Our goal was $350, and so at $352.40, we were right there! You can also see that our frequency was one of the lowest of the previous year.

So how did it feel? With the exception of being tired a couple nights when we cooked (where we would have previously gone out to eat at a restaurant), it felt pretty okay. We had just a couple of additional conversations where we were deciding when to go out to eat and when to stay home. It didn’t feel hard to me really, probably because…

…we spent significantly more on groceries. We spent $906.48 on groceries, which is so absolutely insane for 3 adults and a child! Our total food costs for the month of June was $1,298.88. So. Much.

I know that we are going to need to address our food costs as a whole. We tent to buy bulk, so I’m hoping that our monthly average goes down over time. We have also had some conversations about making larger quantity, lower cost meals. With an Instant Pot, crockpot, and someone here in the day to start something if we need it, we really shouldn’t have any problems making 2-3 large meals (with 8-10 servings) throughout the week.

I’d love to be between $750-$850 per month for food costs for our family. I think that is a really reasonable goal to aim for. And wow, that’s $500 less than this month. Imagine what we could be doing with the additional $500/month! It’s time to reign it in!

So tell me reader, how was your June? What amazing meal did you eat? What do you think of our June report?

Cheers!
Mel

food costs challenge – june 2019 check in

Hi reader!

Welcome to our June 2019 check in! One of our main goals right now is to reduce our restaurant (including fast food) costs. Over the course of the past year, we averaged approximately $520 per month on restaurant costs. Insane. Our first food challenge goal (of hopefully many) is to keep our restaurant costs to $350 or less per month.

For the first half of the month, we are at $166.16! Just under half, so not bad! We had some family in town from out-of-state that bought a big meal for us, and we bought some additional food to accommodate them as well. What we have found this first month, is that we’re spending a lot more on expensive groceries. I know we’ll tackle the general grocery costs at some point, because those are exorbitant as well.

Reader, let’s hear about your food goals! Do you have any expenses that you are following closely? Or maybe it’s all of your expenses… drop me a line in the comments and let me know!

Cheers!
Mel

challenge: reducing our food costs

Dear Reader, hold on to your pants. You’re about to see some big numbers!

Let’s start this post out with total honesty: We spend too much money on food. I could feel it in my soul. And with financial independence (FI) as an ultimate goal, I decided to dig in to the numbers. Though I have pretty much ignored it for years (problem numero uno), we have always had Mint.com. I logged in and started going through transactions. And our transactions can be summed up like this: Restaurant, restaurant, fast food, amazon, restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, restaurant….

I decided to go to only 2 food categories to try to help me see clearly where money is going in regards to food, and because I know eating out is more expensive than eating at home. Now we have Groceries and Restaurants (which includes fast food). Then, I looked at the bottom line for the Food category.

We spend about $1200/mo on food.

And the restaurant piece of that is ridiculous. Let’s take a look:

The two highest months are months that we traveled extensively, which makes sense to me. But that’s over 250 times in 11 months! That’s an average of over 20 times per month, and over $500/month of spending.

I talked to my husband about this. We’ve always been great about working towards a goal. Some might say that we are a bit too inflexible when we are working towards something, but I think that’s great for this type of thing. So, we’re challenging ourselves to spend no more than $350/month on restaurants. Whether or not we meet this mark, I’ll be documenting this journey on the blog. I will have a mid-month check-in and a post-month report post. Since May is pretty much a bust, I’ll start with my mid-June check-in.

And very soon, I will find out if this number is either painful or attainable. But heck, $150 of savings is a lot of money per month! And since I need to focus on one thing at a time, I’ll be tackling even more aspects of our food costs in the future.

So join me for this challenge by posting updates or links below, and I will follow along. I’d love to see how other people manage their food costs.

Cheers,
Mel

the ladder & the GovJobs

Hi Readers!

I want to give a little background so that people have some context while reading this blog.

My husband and I met in 2010 in the Pacific Northwest, where we still live today. I had graduated from undergrad and my husband had gotten his first post-Masters career position in the town we now live (prior to us meeting). When we met I had just moved back to my hometown with my parents. I had tried for a year after graduating to get a career-oriented job in my college town, but I had only managed to get babysitting and barista jobs. But it was 2009-2010, and finding a job was a challenge, though I was extremely fortunate to graduate without student loans. That was the most valued gift I have ever been given.

When I met Al, he had a salary of about $50k/year at his GovJob, and about $35k of student loan debt. Our relationship was moving along, and about 6 months in, my mom got a fantastic job opportunity in her hometown, out of state. So, Al and I made the decision that I would move in to his 690 sq.ft. apartment. Immediately, with the money that I payed him for rent, he started saving. He was also paying toward the principal on his highest loans. He paid his car and his loans off in at an astonishing rate. I had gotten in a car accident, bought a used car, and paid it off in a couple years with the settlement money in addition to my regular payments.

After a couple years of dating and living together, he asked whether I’d like to focus on getting married or buying a house. Since we had some time before we wanted kids, I responded that I wanted to start with a house. By this time, we had no debt, and we started saving rapidly for a down payment. I also had some investments (around $10k) that were handed over to me. By this time, after a short stint in private industry, I also had acquired a GovJob.

After a year and a half of house hunting, and a a few turned-down offers in a complete sellers market, we finally purchased a foreclosure home for $340k in 2015. We put $72k down to avoid PMI, and that was every last cent we had. We made just under $100k that year.

And this, dear reader, was how we got into our house. Since buying our house, life has been a wild, fulfilling, and extremely expensive ride. Our house, and our lives, look drastically different than they did in our sub-700 sq.ft. apartment.

What type of living situations have you been in, reader? Did you make these decisions with intent? What types of decision-making processes did you go through to arrive where you are?

Cheers,

Mel

reduce, reuse, recycle, retire

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the club! My internet name is Mel, and the purpose of this blog is to document my family’s journey into intentional living, with an ultimate goal of early retirement thrown in there (but not too early, more on this later). Our family consists of my husband Al, our toddler Bo, my mother-in-law, and our dog Bear.

So, why “reduce, reuse, recycle, retire”? These four r’s sum up our plan to get where we want to be, in the manner that is important to us. But it’s not about recycling trash (though hey, that’s great!), it’s about:

  • Reducing spending, unnecessary consumer purchases, and waste;
  • Reusing items where we can and buying reusable items where it makes sense. This also includes giving away or selling items so that they don’t end up in the landfill;
  • Recycling what is no longer useful;
  • Retiring early by increasing our savings rate, while focusing our spending and energy on what is truly important to us.

We’ve been doing a lot of research, reading, and podcast-listening lately, which has started to subtly shift the trajectory of our lives. And while I am a late-adopter to some of these philosophies, my husband seems to be quite the natural for things that I find challenging (like frugality!). And although we are just starting to step off of the path we have been walking, my intent is to be authentic with this journey, the good and bad, and to find the path that fits.

Through this blog, I look forward to finding some like-minded people, who might be walking (or running) a similar path. People who are authentically sharing their successes and stumbles, tips and tricks! Drop a line and let me know who you are and how you’re living intentionally.

Cheers,
Mel