I enjoy keeping track of this stuff and it just seems natural to me to get an idea of what I need when I am going to do something. This can be simple, but when it is more complicated I tend to make lists. Lists are a lifesaver and a great way to keep track.
They also give you an idea of where you can make adjustments.
My friend and her husband have two children, for reference my family is the same size and age.
When we go shopping things look very different.
I make a plan for the meals for the week. I know what I need to buy and how much things will cost. My friend will just wonder the store and throw things in her cart. She usually has to go shopping more than once a week because she hasn't bougt everything she needs to prepare the meals.
For example, I sit down every Sunday evening and make a rundown of what I will need. Shopping is done on Saturday so I have a whole week to adjust or add to the list. Her grocery bill is easily $400 or more a week.
Mine, well take a look for yourself, this week I will be making:
- Pizza, veggies & dip: $1.94/person
- Hamburger night (half veggie burgers) & veggie cheese stuffed potatoes: $2.42/person
- Tacos & burritos: $1.75/person
- Curried chickpeas, coconut-spinach dal, naan & hummus: $1.07/person
- Pork chops, mashed potatoes, peas & carrots: $2.10/person
- Vegetable and Lasagne and garlic bread: $2.44/person
- Sunday dinner, roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes & mixed veggies: $2.43/person
Dinner will cost us less than $60 for the week. These are all wholesome home cooked meals. I am not pinching pennies. In fact I try to get higher quality bio veggies and the works. So many people want to save on everything possible there's a point where your quality of life starts to go down so you can have money for when your old.
My friend tells me that I am frugal. Well, I don't spend $150 a week on drinks. The biggest budget breaker I have found is drinks, milk, oj, really anything other than water easily costs $0.50-$1.00 per 16oz glass (technically 2 servings).
People need to realize that being frugal isn't just about saving money. It's also about how much value you can add if you're willing to make an effort and plan well. For me adding a lot of expensive drinks is not adding value. And my family is a big cranberry juice fan and I can get two gallon containers for a reasonable price.