Critique My Budget Please

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Critique My Budget Please
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 2:18pm


I am new to the board and was hoping that you all could look over my monthly budget and give suggestions on areas that we can cut back on.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2006
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 2:40pm

Some things do seem very high, but since I have no idea of what expenses are like in your neck of the woods – I am assuming that your numbers are where they should be – as you are the one paying them. Some suggestions that I may add; emergency, savings, and gifts.

I do notice that you have “misc”, so that may have included the above mentioned.

"I know God will not give me more than I can handle, I just wish he wouldn't trust me so much!" Mother Theresa


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2005
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 5:25pm

The first thing that jumped out at me was that you are spending $1050 for food for a family of three. Judging by the need for after care your child is still fairly young.

My food budget (including paper, cleaning and personal care) is $300 per month for three adults. (ds will be 16 years old in a two weeks). We will spend an extra $50 per month at the butcher's when we have the cash to buy the extra cuts of meat. We don't eat out unless there is a very special occasion (birthday dinner, anniversary). We don't do carry out or fast food either. I prepare all meals from scratch and feed a hot breakfast 6 days per week. Also my guys take lunch with them to work/school. I work from home.

$40 on water is also a waste. If you truly need bottle quality water get a filter system and save yourself some money.

Does your mortgage number include property taxes and home owners insurance?

I would also find out what that $300 per month misc is going to. You should know where your leaks are and that means knowing what you are spending the money on. Even if it's just a cup of coffee.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2008
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 6:30pm


Congrats on starting a written budget. Put those dollars to work for you!

I always suggest Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." I used it and the baby steps helped us get out debt, build an emergency fund, and really lay out our long term financial goals.

Also, I use these categoris and ranges for my mothly budget. First, figure out dollar amounts for the ranges based on your income (like 5-10% might equal $250-500). Then estimate the amount within the range for each category that will work for your needs, and write that into the 4th column. You have to work with the amounts in the ranges to get the percentages to add up to 100% (they go over, but you have to prioirtize and get it to 100%). Budget down to the dollar. It is pretty flexible and gives an idea of what you should be spending, while allowing for your unique needs.

Good luck!






Emergency Fund


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2005
Tue, 09-29-2009 - 8:26pm

Hi :)

The big thing that jumps out at me is the food/eating out part of the budget. $1050 is a lot to be spending on food. This was a big money waster for me and DH and it has been difficult to cut back on.

Although it would be cheaper to just eat in more, if it's an indulgence you can afford and something you REALLY don't want to give up then write it in to the menu plan once a week. This way, the meal out is accounted for and you're not buying food for a dinner you won't cook.

The other jump out is your DH's student loans, that is A LOT to be paying! Was there any way to consolidate them or can you look at consolidation now?

Miscellaneous is a good category to have and child care and prescriptions are REALLY low! That's awesome :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Wed, 09-30-2009 - 10:16am

Thank you for the input Stacy!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Wed, 09-30-2009 - 10:24am
Thanks Colleen!
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Wed, 09-30-2009 - 10:31am

Hi Katie,

Yes, we really do need to cut back on the eating out part of our budget; I have been talking to DH about that.

We are looking into consolidating or choosing a different repayment plan.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Wed, 09-30-2009 - 10:35am
We live in a somewhat rural/suburban area of the south.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2005
Wed, 09-30-2009 - 1:17pm

I average $75 per week in groceries, paper products and cleaning products.

Approximately $35 is spent each month on personal care, cleaning supplies and paper goods. The remaining $265 is spent on food.

Generally speaking I don't shop at Walmart for food. Their meat prices are ok and they have good sales sometimes and paper products are nicely priced but produce and dairy are over priced as are many other things. I do just as well at the butcher.

First rule I have about shopping is to have a menu planned and to shop around that. It helps me save.

Second is that meat is not a main course more than once per week, it's an ingredient. For soups, stews, rice dishes, bean dishes, pasta dishes etc.. This allows the meat budget to go much further. We have one large sit down meal on Saturday nights (Which is our family night).

I only cook with raw ingredients. No convenience foods or processed foods if I can help it.

I don't purchase junk. No chips, soda, ice cream etc.. These items are a treat, not the norm. For everyday snacking we generally have popcorn (whole kernel not microwaveable), yogurt (plain lowfat with fresh or frozen berries)and once per week I will bake something (scones, pumpkin or zucchini bread, apple pie etc..).

My husband packs a lunch everyday as does my son. When I cook I make sure that there is a little extra so that an extra plate can be made. Then I put them into Glad reusable containers and freeze. Instant, homemade frozen dinner. Dh takes to work and reheats at the office. Ds likes to take simple sandwiches to school. Egg salad, shredded chicken and avocado, peanut butter and jam, or wraps made with scrambled egg and sweet sausage-onion and bell pepper.

We drink water, coffee (black) and hot or sweet tea. As a treat in the summer I will purchase lemons to make lemonade as well.

How much I can get for $50 at the butchers highly depends on what is on sale. I shop and plan my menu around sales. So if there is a sale on lean roast I will purchase that and make good use of it. I would never serve it as a roast. Instead I will cut it, cube it, strip it etc.. and get several meals. One 3.5 lb roast will give me meat for a double batch of minestrone soup, Strips for stroganoff, and cubes for a nice basic stew.

This week there is a sale on whole chickens so I will go and pick up a couple. I will boil them and debone while still hot (you get the most meat out of it if you debone while still a bit hot). I will shred some for sandwiches, cube some for use in chili, chicken stew, soups, salads etc.. I'll get the most meals I can out of them.

Last week I took one whole chicken breast (two halves) and boiled to shred. I then cooked up one large 30 oz can of pumpkin, some onion, celery, salt, black pepper and put in some cannellini beans along with some chicken stock from the cooked chicken. This made enough soup for three full family meals. We ate one and I froze the other two to have in the next couple of weeks. That basically comes to 60 cents per person/per meal and it's a tasty, thick and hearty soup.

To price compare eating out vs making it yourself. My son's 16th birthday is next week. He wants steak tips, mashed potatoes and gravy and fried cauliflower. He also wants pumpkin pie for dessert instead of birthday cake. There will be 9 people here for his birthday dinner. His three grandparents, His god parents, his girlfriend, myself, dh and of course ds.

To have this dinner at the local steakhouse would run us $13 per person for the entree, $3 for the drinks each and another $4 each for dessert. That plus 15% tip for a party that size and I'm looking at $207.

That same dinner at home. $20 for three nice roasts that I will cut into tips myself. $4.50 for cauliflower, $3.50 for potatoes, I make my own gravy. $5 for ingredients to make two pumpkin pies. $4 for three bottles of soda. Total for dinner for 9 people: $37. Average of $4.10 each instead of $20 each.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2009
Thu, 10-01-2009 - 2:13pm


Thanks so much for giving me insight on a more economical way to feed my family;