Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grocery Fail and Mint.com

Haha. I epically failed at grocery budgeting this month. Worse than my last post said. Yikes.

I apparently clean forgot a whole week of groceries. Yup. I've been pretty preoccupied with work so I guess I forgot that I went grocery shopping!

My grocery total is actually $290. Ouch. And I'm only halfway through the month.

This solidifies my determination to eat as cheaply (while still healthily) as possible for the rest of the week. I know I will still have to spend about $20 for the food I am supposed to bring to Thanksgiving at my parents' place. And, let's be realistic, I'll have to buy milk and eggs and probably beans and rice. Speaking of beans! That will be what we are eating for the rest of this month, lol.

So, I sucked. but, my food waste is still really low to none each week, so I know I'm not buying too much food, necessarily, but that I just need to actually (sigh) start (sigh) couponing and put more beans into our diet or something. I know we've made a lot of changes at once so I knew our budget was going to go up, I just need to re-learn how to shop. Maybe prices are better at the farmer's markets...

Which leads me to my next point: Mint.com

This nifty little site is a (free) site that lets you put all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, etc, into one place where you can easily see aggregate data about your finances. It pulls in your statements from your checking (and other) accounts and tries to automatically categorize them for you. Some of them were very wrongly categorized, but overall it did pretty well. Also, it has separate categories for "coffee shop," "fast food," and "restaurants" which isn't applicable to us, so we deleted them and are just using one category for "eating out." Some people might want a "coffee shop" category to track how much that morning latte (or whatever) is costing them.

Setting up this site tonight is what let me see the error of my grocery-budgeting ways... and how epically I failed, lol. We haven't put our student loans or anything into it, just our checking account with attached savings. but, it's a really cool site. It lets you pick how much you want to budget for each category (you can make your own custom ones). Eg, our gas budget is $200 a month because DH has a 15-60 minutes drive to work depending on traffic, plus we have an older car ('93 Buick Century, holla!). So now, instead of having to meticulously track our spending in an excel sheet (which er, um.. I mean... of course I always stay on top of that. Yikes). This does all of that for me.

So, even though we're over on our grocery budget, we've spent less than half of our gas budget this month and the month is half over. And I can see this at a glance. Sweet. Out of our $75 eat out / entertainment budget, we've spent $57.

You can also set a monthly category to roll over each month. So, for us, we each have a "fun money" budget of $20 (this is to stave off the insanity that is trying to watch our pennies). If we want to save up for a larger fun purchase, this will let us keep track of it easily.

I'm really excited. Did I mention it's free? Did I mention it's awesome?

Ok, so, working in Technology, I can't write about this without including:

I don't want anyone to think I'm insulting them, but I have to say this. Don't. Be. Dumb. Ok seriously, your bank info is seriously critical. So be careful. Choose a super strong password (Eg, NOT "password" or your kid's soccer team name). Don't log in at the library and then forget to log out (although I think this site's timeout is ten minutes, still...). Ok, sorry, had to say it. I'm good now.


  1. I feel your pain with the grocery budget. We didn't do so hot this month either. But I just discovered something that will save us money! We joined a Buying Club. I don't know if Cincinnati has one, but I can't imagine why not. We are able to get the lowest prices I have seen on grass-fed meats, raw dairy and tons of other real foods. I discovered it through our local Weston A. Price Chapter. I highly encourage you to check out Cincinnati's chapter- (you can find a contact person on their website- http://www.westonaprice.org) and inquire about buying clubs.

    For the most part, I have discovered buying directly through farmers has been cheaper than the grocery store, since this eliminates the middleman. Find local farmers at eatwellguide.com. It can take some extra planning but is worth it if you're on a tight budget.

  2. Thanks for the info!

    I am trying to figure out how to get back within budget. It's very daunting though. I will check out your links and info.

    It's also hard because we only have one car and we both work so we pretty much have to do all our groceries on the weekend.