Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Category 1: Food

The Food category is divided into 3 sub-categories, dining in, dining out and baking.

The dining in category is fairly self explanatory; it covers groceries intended for my own consumptions, breakfasts at home, lunches brought to work, dinners cooked at home and snacks. I try to be fairly frugal and bring lunch to work daily, but on occasion I get convinced to join the coworkers for lunch out. I rarely snack and even more rarely buy snack food. Living alone means most dinners are fairly modest and leftovers can last me for days.

Dining out is a subcategory that has the ability to break my budget. Most of my dining out happens when I’m traveling, as I find it harder to resist the plethora or food options I just can’t get in my small town and the social experiences of dining with people I rarely get to see. It’s a bit difficult to separate dining out from entertainment in these circumstances. This is also a category where I let generosity get in the way; I hate feeling petty about money and will often put things on my credit card, telling people that we can work things out later. We rarely do. I also feel a bit of the motherly instinct which wants to take care of people, meaning that if I earn the larger paycheck then I will often insist on taking someone out so they won’t need to worry about money. I pay for birthday dinners. These aren’t very frugal things to do.

Baking is a category we’re working on. I bake a lot, but I don’t really enjoy eating much of what I bake. Instead, I bake things to send or take to others, making it more of a gift than a consumable. In the past I’ve been fairly lazy about accurately recording this category because it involves breaking down my grocery receipts, but I’m working on being a little more diligent this month in order to get an accurate view of how much my little habit is costing me. It may be one of the categories to get slashed if I need to find extra money.

All told, I budget between $300 and $400 a month between these three categories, which doesn’t look bad on its own, but over the course of a year adds up to ~$4000. If I cut out going out, my monthly cost would drop to less than $150. If I decided to live extremely frugally, it would probably drop below $75. I could definitely be more frugal in this category.

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