2016 Savings Review

I will admit that I get excited about this post and, and more specifically the data it contains, every year.  This is the one time where I really get to look at all of our information, jointly as a couple, rather than just my income and savings.  As Mr. SFF and I keep separate checking accounts and credit cards so I don’t see the whole picture until I make him sit down and give me all of his data.   I try to get an update mid-year just to see now we are tracking but it is year end numbers that I like to see.  Yes, I know how much he has saved as he moves money periodically to the joint checking and then I move the money to our investment accounts, but I don’t how much he has made and if this is a large percentage of his take home income or not.  Since all of our benefits and 401(k) savings comes out of my paycheck Mr. SFF’s savings makes the biggest impact on our overall savings goal. Continue reading “2016 Savings Review”

Monthly Food Update – #9

Another month gone by in our journey and our food expenses look pretty much the same.  We went out three times which is more than I would like but two were special occasions and once was after helping my sister for a few hours and we were famished for lunch.

One dinner out was to celebrate our anniversary (happy 8 years Mr. SFF!).  My lovely mother in law sent us a check for $200 to celebrate this special occasion so that is exactly what we did.  We went out to a nicer restaurant and spent $133.48 for dinner, drinks and dessert (including tax and tip).  This was certainly a nice treat and something we would not have done if it were not for my mother in laws generosity.   Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #9”

Monthly Food Update #8

Wow, I have been so busy and preoccupied with life that I am way behind on my post.  There is nothing really notable about this past month’s food budget other than going out socially a few times so our dining out costs were slightly higher but our general food costs were in control and within our normal range.

One thing we have started doing a couple of months ago was making our own pizzas instead of ordering out.  I am not talking all the way from scratch as that is too much work but at least putting our own together.  No matter which route we go with this it is not cheap as I am gluten free but I have found it is slightly less expensive if we make our own and we have decided we actually prefer our homemade ones.  There happens to a company, Against The Grain, that makes AMAZING gluten free items.  When we are in the mood for a pizza night I usually buy the three cheese pizza (in the freezer section) and then we put on our own toppings.  Our recent favorite is adding chorizo, red peppers, and some kale or Swiss chard from our garden.  Amazingly yummy and making my mouth water as I type this.  Last time I made one I itemized out the costs just to see how much it was saving us. Continue reading “Monthly Food Update #8”

Monthly Food Update – #7

I will admit that I have been slacking on my food logs recently, hence the delay in this post.  This past month as a little out of the norm.  We had a super relaxing vacation but then spent the following week changing over two apartments.  As a result I fell behind on logging receipts until there was a huge pile and often forgot to take photos of our meals.  Alas, that is life.

Costs this month are not quite as accurate as usual as we spent a week on vacation in Rhode Island.  We share a house with my mother in law, an uncle and all of our meals are generally cooked so thankfully dining out costs end up being fairly low.   Usually I am the one in charge of tallying the share of costs at the end of the week but since we left a day early this year my mother in law was the one in charge.  She never asked us to give her any additional money so the grocery store runs we made likely covered the cost of all of our food for the week.  For the purposes of this blog post I am just going to assume we spent an even $100 for the two of us for the entire week and broke it out between breakfast, lunch and dinner costs.  This could be off but is probably close enough.

Per the suggestion of one reader I added another page to my site with some of our favorite recipes.  These may not be the most cost effective recipes but they are some of our favorites in regular rotation.  I will try to add more as the seasons change and as different types of meals get added to our regular schedule.  When possible I might also try to add the average cost of those meals but I haven’t gotten there yet. Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #7”

Mid-Year Savings Update

The SFF household has been busy so this post is slightly delayed but we finally had a chance to sit down and review our total income/expense numbers for the first half of the year.  I have been anxiously awaiting this info as we keep our individual income and expense money separate so I was a little in the dark as to how we were doing as a couple.  But I am happy to report that we have increased our savings rate from last year!

In 2015 we saved 28% of our joint net income.  This was a little lower than I had wanted but we have both made an effort to decrease our spending even more and Mr. SFF has been transferring money to our joint accounts more consistently resulting in a higher savings rate.  Based on my calculations we have saved approximately 46% of our net income so far this year.  Woohoo!  I am pretty psyched about this as it is a drastic increase from last year and we both still have buffers of extra money in our individual accounts which is not included in this number. Continue reading “Mid-Year Savings Update”

Monthly Food Update – #6

I know, another food update.  I promise I am working on some other topics but I just gotten distracted lately.  So this past month was a little brutal.  Our grocery store food costs were actually OK but a long weekend to CT completely blew our food budget with four meals eaten out.  We spent more money dining out in just those four days than we have probably spent all year.  Ouch!  Did we have a great time visiting friends?  Yes without a doubt.  But it certainly hurt the wallet.  The funny thing is that we used to dine out all the time but now it is just painful when I look at the numbers.

On a positive note, this past month I made a mini chalkboard to list our weekly meals.  I keep our weekly meal plan on a google spreadsheet but now we have a nice little visual right in the kitchen.  I already had the supplies to make the chalkboard, including the chalkboard paint, so this little project didn’t cost anything.  It’s not perfect but it seems to work pretty well.

2016-07-08 07.37.39 copy
Last weeks menu as set on Sunday.

Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #6”

Monthly Food Costs – Update #5

I am trying to decide if it is time to stop these monthly food updates.  I mean tracking it has been certainly helpful to me but I am torn as to if I should continue to share this info.  But alas, here is the last months update.

The month of May was brutal to my regular budget.  All sort of extra things were thrown in (Mother’s Day, Mr. SFF’s 40th b-day, and pre-paying for some travel costs) and I was only able to save the $400 per month that I automatically transfer over to our saving.  This was thoroughly depressing but thankfully even with this dismal amount, my average savings rate for the year is still at 42%.  Before starting this post I was pretty sure that our monthly food costs would also be high but I was pleasantly surprised as I entered the last of our receipts into my spreadsheet that we were actually close to our monthly food spending goal (which is pretty flexible/variable) of $500 per month even though I did buy some more organic food.

We had a couple of dining out costs, two which were lunches due to some issues with meal planning and one birthday dinner that went over our gift certificate.  But on the other hand we also had a few “free” meals over the past month.  My mother in law took us out for a birthday dinner celebration, we got a couple of free dinners through Mr. SFF’s work, and we also went out to celebrate 15 years together but this was fully covered by a gift certificate from a friend  so those nights probably helped a little with our monthly costs.

May 8 – June 7
Category Totals Purpose
Food $474.30 Breakfast $50.88
Groceries $71.18 Lunch $90.67
Alcohol $51.88 Dinner $202.24
Snacks $70.18
Ingredients $37.86
Entertaining $0.00
General household $3.19
Cleaning $12.99
Personal care $55.00
Rental Properties $0.00
Alcohol $51.88
Beverages $22.47

Lunches out: $19.58
Dinner out: $65.56

What my meal planning blunder really shows me is how much meal planning really does help.  The two lunches that Mr. SFF bought when I messed up planning were certainly not cheap, even though they were nothing fancy.  With an average of $9.79 per lunch, if he were to do this twice per week for 50 weeks out of the year that’s a total of $979 per year.  I think he used to buy lunch out pretty often but if I can prepare our lunch reliably with only the occasional schedule mess-up, even if the prepared lunches cost $2 each this should save $579 per year.  It’s amazing how fast the little things really do add up!

Two weeks ago I planted our little vegetable garden and although it will be a couple of months before we have anything to harvest, I am excited to see how this might affect our food costs.  I am going to try to keep track of the food that we harvest to see if it is possible to estimate our savings but I am just hoping that it will be evident when we look at the numbers.

Here are some of our meals over the past 31 days, including one lunch and breakfast this time.

2016-05-09 13.25.37 2016-05-12 19.13.54 2016-05-13 18.11.57 2016-05-15 19.04.28 2016-05-16 18.58.38 2016-05-17 19.52.07 2016-05-19 18.40.00 2016-05-20 18.37.44 2016-05-21 19.07.05 2016-05-24 18.46.07 2016-05-25 07.08.32 2016-05-25 18.55.14 2016-06-02 18.44.15 2016-06-06 18.33.15

5/9: (lunch) salad with grilled chicken, avocado, beets and sliced almonds
5/12: almond flour chicken, carrots and sweet potato fries
5/13: glazed salmon, green beans, rice
5/15: balsamic chicken, carrots, roasted cauliflower
5/16: pork tenderloin, carrots, wild rice
5/17: tofu stir fry with carrots, broccoli and snap peas over rice noodles
5/19: ham with pineapple glaze, broccoli, rice and GF roll
5/20: burger with avocado and goat cheese with salad
5/21: pork, wilted kale, potatoes
5/24: one pot chicken taco (GF) pasta dish
5/25: (breakfast) local eggs, GF toast and avocado – this was a break from the norm
5/25: glazed salmon, wilted kale with prosciutto
6/2: almond chicken, green beans and sweet potato fries (one of my new favorites but the almond flour is expensive)
6/6: grilled pork, wilted kale and beets

 

Monthly Food Costs – Update #4

After another full month of tracking our food and grocery expenses I feel that we are finding a good system that works for us.  Are we still spending more than the average family?  Maybe.  But we are saving a ton of money compared to our 2015 food costs and still eating healthy.

I am still doing meal planning on Sundays and find that this is the key to making this work.  I usually only plan meals through Wednesday and then do a mid-week plan for the rest of the week.  Although this is not my favorite part of the day on Sunday I do find that there is a lot less stress mid-week when it comes to food so it has been worth it.  Here is my meal plan from last week. Continue reading “Monthly Food Costs – Update #4”

Monthly Food Costs – Update #3

Um, wow!  This past month we made incredible progress towards reducing our food costs.  Woot, woot!  

Part of the reason that our expenses were a little lower this month is I did some stocking up last month at Costco buying enough nuts to last a couple of months as well as some meat that we are still using.  So I guess it kinda evens out in the end, but still I love seeing a lower number even if it is skewed a little. Continue reading “Monthly Food Costs – Update #3”

First Quarter Savings Update

Last fall I stopped doing monthly savings updates as I found it was common to have one month completely thrown off by a car repair or some larger expense and then followed by a good month.  Over the course of three months though things seem to even out pretty well.

The first quarter this year was a very good example of this as I started the year out with a car repair.  It is amazing how much a $250 repair will throw off all of my numbers.  But following this up with a couple of good months and I was back on track. Continue reading “First Quarter Savings Update”