Friday, July 24, 2015

Groceries on $60 per month: Why I am starting a personal finance blog...

Groceries on $60 per month
Why I am starting a personal finance blog

I was chatting with a group of friends a number of months ago, when the topic of my love for personal finance came up.  Almost immediately, one friend announced “I remember that you were the one that taught me how to grocery shop!”  Suddenly, a distant memory resurfaced in my mind.  I could clearly picture us both with hand-held baskets in hand, as we had just entered Fred Meyers.  I was a cute, 19-year-old blond, and she was an equally cute 18-year-old red-head.  We were standing in the produce aisle when our first lesson began.

“Are you sure we can really do this for $10?”  She asked.  You see, I rarely spent more than $10 per week on groceries in that day.  It was the late 90’s and groceries weren't exactly cheap, but I liked to eat healthy, live on a budget, and most importantly, I had a system.

I was also a vegetarian.  According to my system, eggs were priority #1.  They are cheap protein and very versatile.  Next up is produce.  Fruits and veggies are not to be ignored for fear of their expense.  Heart surgery is more expensive than an apple.  Remember that!  Quickly scan the produce section for sales.  Sometimes seasonal items are on a killer sale.  If not, default to a bag of baby carrots, a bunch of bananas, or a few apples.  That should be about $5.  Half of the budget.  Now, decide on the “starch of the week.”  For a couple of bucks, you can choose a bag of rice, a box of pasta, or some potatoes.  Then, I would always buy the generic English muffins that cost $1 for 3 packages, an 8 oz. block of generic brand cheese, or a condiment to tie some things together.  That could be marinara, canned tomatoes, sour cream, butter.  I’d choose one on sale based on which starch I selected, and what I was running low on at home.  This totals $10.  This budget assumed two things, no sales tax in Oregon, and that I had some typical things like condiments at home.  About once per month I’d spend another $10-20 to replenish some things like oil perhaps that had run low.

So there it was, my $60 per month system for groceries for one.  It had been years since I had thought of this, though my frugality and attention to money hasn't faded. 

Someone once told me that they were amazed by what I could do financially with very little.  I had to really stop and consider what they meant.  I did not come from money.  So, I started from nothing.  On an annual salary of $25,000, I bought a house in Portland, OR, paid off my credit card debt, and took a trip to Mexico.  I am proud to say that my salary has shot up considerably since then, but I am still very much on a journey with my personal finances.

I am still learning, though I must admit that I am very knowledgeable about matters concerning money.  Because of this savvy, I have decided to start a personal finance blog.  Please follow my blog if you are interested in short articles on a variety of personal finance topics, in addition to updates on my own journey to financial freedom.


  1. I look forward to more of your thoughts and processes on personal finance. I know I could probably use them in my life. If I could feed my family of 4 for $240 a month, that would be awesome! One question, did you have any budget for eating out, or did you really limit that as much as possible?

    1. That's a great question. I tried to limit that as much as possible, but I do believe that a part of being successful is related to NOT feeling deprived. I established a routine and a set of rules for myself. I think you have to do what is right for your family, but I found that I needed "dining out" to be it's own category. At that time, I went out to dinner about once per week, and went out to a lounge once or twice per week. I had a set amount to spend per week in those categories. I don't remember the numbers now, but the budget for lounges was about $10-15 per week. I had found a $2 drink place that I went to once per week. I would usually keep it to $10, including tips. I had a similar system for meals out.

      Now, my income is higher, but I am a household of two, with an income of one. We try to avoid eating out, but do budget for a weekly pizza night. We have a set dollar amount for that as well, and have chosen a pizza place with periodic free pizza rewards. Once we reduce debt a bit more, and gain two incomes, we will create more of a dining out category to our budget.