Author Topic: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question  (Read 4670 times)

Rollin

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1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« on: May 31, 2013, 06:17:52 AM »
Two Question in One Post!  Hope that is acceptable here...

Question 1 - Okay, I'm taking the easy(ier) route and asking you all what your thoughts are.  We have a family of 5 (plus 3 dogs and a cat, and the occasion friend over - or 3) and eat-in for the vast majority of our meals (eat-out as a family maybe 3-4 meals per month).  The exception is that I eat out for lunch 3 out of 5 days (better than what it used to be - 5 out of 5 for 28 years!).  I'm working to increase the eating in at work, but I forget to bring my "supplies" so often!

Anyway, I could go back over our credit card statements and determine what we spent last year, but I'd rather set a goal of lower spending as opposed to just budgeting for what we did last year.  I'd probably set out a certain amount and we'll stick to that.  One problem that arises though is I am not the only one that buys groceries and the DW is not into this mustache stuff as much as me so we may not hit the target all the time.  However, with no target - no telling where we'll be.

Gosh, I need to get to the question!  What should a family of 5 expect to spend (in the US) per week on groceries?  I mean food items primarily, because I know that we sometimes purchase non-food items there for convenience (like pastic storage bags), but the total can include some of that too.

Question 2 - This relates to the use of You Need a Budget (or most any other tool to track/budget expenses).  We use our credit card for 90% of our purchasing.  I pay other bills through automatic checking withdrawls (like the power bill).  Only two or three go out as electronic checks (water bill).  I use cash for local small businesses (like when I eat out for lunch) because they get hit hard with the credit card fees.

It looks like YNAB really asks you to know exactly where your money goes.  Here is the question - Do I need to switch from the credit card and go to cash or better yet for us (convenience) use the debit card so that I can better track things?

I'm finding that the credit card is hard to track regularly, but provides a good picture at the end of the year.  Problem is, that at the end of the year we may have overspent (like last year! - ouch).

Bottom line is I'd really like to set an amount we can spend each year and stick to it - rather than scrutinize every single purchase over a certain amount.  I put too much stress on myself and my DW by doing this.  It also puts too much of the responsibility for pointing out overspending on me.  I'd like to share that responsibility with my DW for many reasons, but mainly because she will feel more in control and less restricted (or criticized).


BTW - FIRE is in 5 years or less (at 57)!!!! so this work I'm doing will ensure that I get there.

aj_yooper

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2013, 07:12:57 AM »
Question 1:

MMM Comments on Grocery Bill:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/

Question 2:

You could use Mint (mint.com), a free expense compiler that, according to others including MMM, works very well with credit cards and checking accounts.  It will give you a view of your past spending activity along with suggestions regarding your spending.  My wife and I use YNAB ($60), but it is a budget tool.  You input your purchases with mobile apps or on your computer; it allows electronic updates from your checking or credit cards, but they encourage putting in the data yourself so you get a better feel.  YNAB has extensive free education and a blog on how to use program.  We like it and use the iPhone app.  You do have to create a budget, but the process is simple; you can be as detailed or general as you want.  We are very detailed.  YNAB encourages you to set up a buffer of cash so that you budget your income for next month's budget. 

mpbaker22

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 07:37:45 AM »
Mint will track you expenses quite nicely, give you graphs, etc.  The downside is it's all backwards looking.  From what I understand, YNAB is forwards looking.  If your goal is to track expenses, check out mint.  If your goal is to budget and compare actuals to your budget, YNAB might be better, as I understand it.

netskyblue

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 08:15:22 AM »
I'm finding that the credit card is hard to track regularly, but provides a good picture at the end of the year.

Why do you find credit card purchases harder to track than debit card purchases?

My budget is in Excel, and I sit down once a week and open my bank website, and my 2 credit card websites, and enter every purchase.  (I use a different color font for which account/CC was used, for my own reference).  This way, I track the money as it is spent, rather than when the CC bill comes due.  I don't count that at all, since I've already counted each expenditure.

mlipps

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2013, 08:36:25 AM »
Mint will track you expenses quite nicely, give you graphs, etc.  The downside is it's all backwards looking.  From what I understand, YNAB is forwards looking.  If your goal is to track expenses, check out mint.  If your goal is to budget and compare actuals to your budget, YNAB might be better, as I understand it.

Or use Mint to aggregate all your accounts and then use YNAB for actual budgeting, which is more or less what I do.

gecko10x

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2013, 08:44:03 AM »
Since no one has directly said this yet: in YNAB, set up the credit card as an on-budget account. Then input transactions as they happen just like you would for your bank account. (Check out the YNAB forums/help for a more in-depth answer on how to do this if you aren't paying it off each month.)

As for setting a grocery budget- be aware that you may have a very hard time sticking to some arbitrary number if it isn't close to your typical spending, and could get discouraging quick. Personally, I'd go through the last couple of months to get an idea of what you spend. (If you have a lot of transactions, you could use Mint to import & categorize the last few months.)

Rollin

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2013, 04:46:57 PM »
Very good replies.  I'll follow up with some of the suggestions and look at the grocery link.

Tracking cc purchases is hard only because there are so many!  I guess the same would occur with a debit card.  What I was hoping for is the debit card having more impact or meaning, as the cc is swipe, go, and then see the bill a month later.  I pay it off every month, but sometimes it gets high and has been creeping up over the years.

One issue I have with Mint is that for some reason I can never enter the site.  I have passwords, and everything else set up. but it never seems to work.

N

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2013, 06:06:18 PM »
In YNAB, you enter all of your spending as it happens, be it cash, credit, debit, checking. They also have apps for phones, so you can do it when you are out and sync later at home. You can make a habit of recording yor spending every night, or if it works for you, every week. fwiw, my checking and my credit cards also have downloadable files that open into ynab and can import all your data. its pretty easy.

I find its easier to stay in food budget if I have a menu plan, and therefore, a grocery list.

You *could* take over grocery shopping as a gift to spouse and then you can control spending there.

also, in ynab, on the app and in the program, when you pull up a category, it tells you how much is left in the category to spend.

but mint is also good to show you past spending and easily see trends. I use both.

For 5 people food-wise, Id think you could get down to at least 150 per week. maybe lower, depending on how good your frugality muscles are and if you eat meat or buy coffee/alcohol, etc.

mm1970

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2013, 08:49:02 PM »
Lunch 3x a week at $10 a day is $30 a week, $120 a month, or $1440 per year (give or take, don't have vacations in there).  I would focus on that first, grocery bill second.

oldtoyota

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 09:07:51 PM »
Very good replies.  I'll follow up with some of the suggestions and look at the grocery link.

Tracking cc purchases is hard only because there are so many!  I guess the same would occur with a debit card.  What I was hoping for is the debit card having more impact or meaning, as the cc is swipe, go, and then see the bill a month later.  I pay it off every month, but sometimes it gets high and has been creeping up over the years.

With YNAB, you do not have to enter all transactions manually. When I first used YNAB, I downloaded the .csv file of my cc transactions and imported them into YNAB. I did the same for my bank account.

Also, you start where you are with YNAB. You do not go back and add them for the past. The idea is to start with the now.

I tried Mint.com and deleted my account. Not for me. I am still in the first 30 days of YNAB and will purchase the software. It's enlightening.


Rollin

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Re: 1. Grocery Bill Expectations/Question - 2. YNAB Question
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2013, 11:26:56 AM »
Thanks all for the replies.  Interesting and helpful!