Friday, August 13, 2010

All Grocery Budgets Are Not Created Equal

This is something I've been thinking about for awhile now... and a recent Twitter conversation really got my wheels turning.

All grocery budgets are not created equal.

Do you read those blogs? The ones that post their weekly budgets every week and then list the deals they scored? Me too. I find them so inspirational! I'm fascinated by the different ways we all choose to feed our families and save a buck or two. I've posted my grocery budget once or twice on here too, though it's certainly not a weekly feature.

Sometimes, seeing these super low "grocery budgets" can be encouraging. And sometimes it's just the opposite. It can be frustrating to see someone else feeding the same number of people for 10 or 15 or 20 dollars less a week than you. But here are a few things to think about...

  • Does their budget include going out to eat?
  • Does their budget include household items?
  • Do they use SwagBucks to pick up items that supplement their groceries?
  • Do they have access to more/better coupons than the "average" consumer?
  • Do they have family members/friends who provide them with fresh eggs/milk/meat?
  • Do they garden extensively or have fruit trees on their property?
  • Do they have food allergies/sensitivities to work around?
  • Do they have to follow a specific diet due to religious convictions?
  • Do they stick to only organic or raw foods?

I'm not saying that doing or not doing any one of these things is "cheating". Certainly not. But will it affect a budget? Absolutely! We each come at this whole "food budget" thing from a different place.

For me, it's not just a "grocery budget"... it's a food budget. That means if we decide to go out to eat- a very rare event- I need to find the money within the food budget. I manage to snag most (but not all) of our "household" items (diapers, cleaning products, etc) within that same food budget. I garden, but it's on a fairly small scale. I think I've only managed to earn one $5 Amazon gift card from SwagBucks so far. ;) I buy all my meat, eggs, and milk... none for any great discounts. I would say I get my fair share of "better-than-average" coupons by being a member of VocalPoint, BzzzAgent, and, well, being a blogger. We have no real restrictions, though we try to use as much "real" food as possible. That's my story.

Do I think we should all put a disclaimer on our published budget? Nah. I don't think that's necessary, nor would it be much fun.

What I DO think is that we all need to keep these things in mind as we peruse others' budgets... should I feel bad about myself because I can't feed my family of five for $35/week? Nope.

And neither should you.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

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