“Wait! What? No, that isn’t possible! $1120 for food this month! Surely we accidentally triple entered a Costco receipt!” I would love to say I was cool like a cucumber, but I wasn’t. I could feel my chest tighten. My breathing started to get shallow. “What happened?!” I looked at Mr. Mt with slight panic on my face.
There was no mistake. We actually spent over $1100 on food. But after a few minutes, the panic subsided. Here are the more clear headed thoughts that came later.
1. We use to spend that much EVERY month.
Yup. Every. Single. Month. We had gone from just having one biological child at home to having 3 new kids added to our family all at once. For those who have never raised kids and can’t quite wrap your mind around what that might look like. Let me explain. Going from 1 child to 4 will explode your life. I quit my job. The youngest had experienced a lot of trauma and for the first 6 months woke up every hour during the night crying hysterically. I was a zombie. They had 13 appointments a week, covering all 7 days. Raising any 4 kids is challenging, but there were appointments for therapies I didn’t even know existed. Perhaps it’s like bringing triplets home from the hospital. SO much love, so much joy, and totally exhausting.
So every month we spend $1200 a month on food. I did not have hours to spend in the kitchen chopping, prepping and creating food plans. Costco rostery chickens were my best friend.
It took time to learn how to cook affordably for a large family. It’s time well spent figuring it out. But it didn’t happen that first year. And that was ok. We have learned a lot and have come a long way in paring down our expenses. I’m glad we have moved past the $1200 food bill every month. We have cut out our grocery bill in half…. other than this month. =) ( I just checked October and it looks much lower so far!)
2. I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t been tracking our expenses.
I would have never known we spent so much on food, if we weren’t tracking our expenses. Our expenses were SO low this month, I wouldn’t have know about the grocery bill. Our checking account actually went up a bit in September. Mr. Mt sweetly mentioned that perhaps we shouldn’t track our spending if it was going to stress me out. No! I love being able to see where each dollar went, because it helps me figure out if the money spent offered a good value or not. Tracking our spending has give me TONS of great data. I get to geek-out over spread sheets as we think through what this next season holds for us.
3. Low expenses give us flexibility
Spending that much on food had no negative impact on our month. In fact, our expenses were still crazy low. One of the reasons I love having low expense that we can spend really big some months and it have almost no effect. We can travel for 6 weeks, or build out our bathroom without blowing our monthly budget. When I was growing up, money was always so tight. Every dollar was mentally spent before the paycheck was cashed. Any little unplanned for expense was painful. The $12 for school pictures was a hardship. My mom always made sure she could come up with the money, but I was scared each year it might not happen. I was terrified I would be the only kid from my class standing in line without a picture money envelope.
Having low expenses helps me feel rich. I can spend 2x as much money on food one month, and still buy the big picture package for my kids. Like it ain’t no thing. Just throwing dolla bills in the air. 😉
Other than spending a crazy amount of money on food, September was great. The kids settled back into school. We finished up our Moderate Minimalism efforts, and ended up buying one shelf to complete the task. Adding one shelf vs. a storage shed seemed like a reasonable trade off.
I received a refund check from our labor and delivery doctor, which is why our health care numbers are negative. Although my primary care doctor sent a bill a few weeks later that I still need to call about. There might be some weird connection, we shall see. If not, I’m glad they were on top of it, because I had no idea I over payed.
We went to a free Celtic festival and watched some Highland games, which was awesome. We even sprung for a $7 jumbo bag of kettle corn. My kids will love any event, if I buy them kettle corn. That’s the only reason they are happy to go to the farmers market. They will be eternally patient and well behaved while we stroll around if their little hands are full of the stuff. I probably look like I really have my crap together in public because the kids are so sweet, kind and well mannered. In reality I most likely have candy in my pocket I am slowly dolling out. It’s amazing how great they do in Costco for 3 gummie bears.
I hope you all had a great September!
Questions for discussion:
- Do you track your spending? Ever almost fallen over from an unexpectedly expensive month?
- Kettle corn: yeah or neigh?
- I’m thinking about doing a series on affordable meal options. Is that something you would like?
- Have you gone to Highland games before? They are kind of crazy right? I really like the “throw a small hay bale over a tall pole with pitchfork” event. Mr. Mt wanted to start training as his new hobby by the time we left.