Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Living Cheerfully on Less

The title of this post is actually a tag line from a blog I like to visit, The Frugal Girl. I discovered her after she posted to one of my favorite blogs, No Impact Man. I liked her comment and I was intrigued by her moniker because I also fancy myself as a frugal girl. I've been enjoying her posts ever since and she has inspired me to create (and stick to!) a weekly food budget and be more accountable for the food that gets wasted in our household. We usually don't have much food go to waste and what does usually benefits our chickens which supply eggs, so I don't feel too bad about it, but I do want to be more proactive.

I've been tracking our food expenses for months and generally we have spent anywhere from $150 to $400 a week for food - including groceries, dining out, and party fare. The Frugal Girl spends on average $80-100 a week for a family of 6! Fortunately, she is very forthcoming about how she spends so little, even posting her weekly menus and itemized grocery bills. For the month of February I have challenged myself to a weekly budget of $80 for all our food. (If FG can do it for a family of 6, I can at least try for my family of 3!)

This challenge is especially timely because we just bought a "share" of a local farm to the tune of $500 and I won't see the benefit of spending that money until late May when the produce becomes available. We feel a little bit of a pinch economically now, but it is well worth it to support our local organic farmers and further reap the benefits of delicious local fruits and vegetables from late spring to early fall.

From now on I will publish pictures of our food waste on Sunday and our weekly menu and grocery bill on Monday. I actually started the project last week (an old heel of bread and some hot dog buns went to the chickens much to their delight) and spent $76.73 on food for the week. We are not going out to eat this week but we are hosting a party of 8 (plus kids). In the past I have given little thought to the expense associated with hosting our regular monthly gatherings because the fun and fellowship are so important to me. It required a little more thought but I kept within my budget this week by planning on vegetarian chili and cornbread for our meal. (I had chips and salsa already in my pantry and my friends have offered to provide beer and salad, so it will be quite a celebratory feast.)

To be clear, I am not following a budget because of a sense of scarcity. I simply subscribe to a belief that I can live, to quote the Frugal Girl, cheerfully on less. And I find that it is a fun and satisfying exercise to challenge myself in that regard. A few weeks ago a friend mentioned being in debt because he had been paying for an "upper-middle-class lifestyle". It was the first time I heard a friend describe their socio-economic status and it inspired an interesting discussion with my husband. We agreed that we are wealthy. We live on $55K of annual income from our part-time employment, we have no debt other than our mortgage, we have plenty of savings, we contribute to multiple charities, and we live, I believe, very well. Cheers!

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Ah, thanks for the mention! :-)

By the way, you should participate in my Food Waste Friday...when you get your food waste picture up, just come and leave your link below my food waste picture. It'll get you some more hits. ;-)