The Wall Street Journal reports that 50% of people do not budget their expenses at all, and one in five people has no idea how much money they are actually spending each month. When funds get tight, it is clear that we know very little about how to manage our money. Family budgets are more important than ever, with filing for bankruptcy and debt on the rise. If you have kids who you intend to send off to college, then it is doubly important to be saving money.
Budget ideas for families run the gamut of cheap stay-cation ideas, how to save money when shopping for clothes, and how to cut back on utilities. However, when it comes to family budgeting, one area that everyone in the family can help to save money in, is food. Here are three tips to help your family better budget food costs.
- Track expenses.
- Try family budget recipes.
- Minimize eating out.
Did you know that the average person spends 17% of their monthly salary on food? Multiply your monthly salary by .17 and see how much money that is. Does it seem like a lot? You can help get a better picture of how much money you are actually spending on food by keeping track of your receipts. Food is one of the most flexible areas when it comes to budgeting expenses. Understanding how much you could be saving starts with knowing how much you are already spending. Aim to not spend more than 14% of your salary on food and your budget should start to become a little more manageable.
When the recent financial crisis hit, scores of great blogs about cooking budget meals were all created seemingly overnight. Some recipes will even tell you how much is actually being spent per portion. It is not uncommon to find meals where each portion only costs 20 cents. Compare that to how much it costs each person when you eat out, and you will learn to love the idea of eating in.
On average, going out once a week can add up to expenses of about $3,000 a year. If you stop going out altogether, you could save up to $22,000 a year. This of course varies on where you choose to eat out and how much damage you do. Personally, my husband and I have a slight problem when we go out for sushi and average around $70 a meal. However, being cognizant of this, we have decided to cut back on going out, and especially on going out for sushi. You can also minimize food costs by reducing impulse purchases.
When your family budgets how much it wants to spend each month on food, that number can be adhered to more easily if you are not buying a coffee here, a bottle of water there, or a little snack on the drive home. Plan to have coffee, water, tea, or little snacks prepared at home and brought with you in case a craving strikes.
Family budgets can greatly benefit from these tips to try budgeted recipes, expense tracking, and reducing the amount of dining done out of the house. Although there are other expense areas where you can save money, there are few that really let the whole family get involved.