Monthly Budget

Updated on January 26, 2011
C.S. asks from Racine, WI
15 answers

After a year of unemployment I have found work and am making decent money. My question is why is it we still have no $$ at the end of the month for anything other then paying bills and buying food!

We have no CC debt-our bills are only food, gas, life insurance, daycare, car payment and medical stuff. I can't cut anywhere, but our food budget, (groceries and necessities-we eat out once a week and it's usually a pizza for $20), but I don't seem to know where. I already cut coupons, buy generic and shop the sales and buy only what we need-we still end up paying about $200/wk on food and diapers, etc.

We have a 11 mo old and a three yr family of four-are we spending to much on groceries or is this realistic and I just have to accept the fact that we have no disposable income?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Appleton on

My family of 4 budgets around $100-130/week on groceries. This amount does not include diapers or baby supplies since my kids are 8 & 6. The one thing that really helped me budget and cut costs is making a weekly menu. As corny as that sounds it helps us out tremendously. When I go shopping get only what we need. My Aunt and Mother have started this too and have told me how much money they save.

Good Luck!

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answers from Rochester on

Edit ******* I'm not sure who said they spend $30 or $40 a WEEK on diapers, but that's close to what I spend A MONTH on diapers. If you are spending more than $50 A MONTH on diapers, you are buying them at the wrong store and in the wrong quantity. Seriously, these websites and stores try to make you think their diapers are so cheap...and they are not!! I buy boxes of Luvs at Target for $16 apiece and they come with 80-108 diapers, depending on what size you are buying. Three boxes a month (which is about 300 a month, approx) gives you ten diapers a day...that's enough, right? :)

We are a family of four...I have a six year old and an eight month old, and a husband with a very healthy appetite...and our monthly food budget is under $600.

If you think about it, $20 a week adds up to $80-$100 a month...just for pizza. We are on a tight budget, and we could never afford to do that. Maybe twice a month we get Papa Murphy's (take and bake) and we maybe spend $7 each time, or less with a coupon...or get your pizza on a deal day, where they're doing two mediums for $5 each, for example.

You also should evaluate if you are buying things you don't necessarily need, food wise...if you want to cut the budget. Condiments, sauces, and extra "flavorings" really add up, money wise, and aren't healthy...I've tried to cut back on them (but it's hard because my husband likes a lot of sauce. :)

Also, as far as diapers go...really, Luvs are the best deal. I'm not sure what you use, but what you should do is take the price of the box and divide it by how many diapers there are, and see what your "price per diaper" is. This can range anywhere from 16 cents to almost 30 cents, depending on what brand and what size package you are buying. I buy all the diapers I need each month for under $45 dollars...and sometimes, when the leftovers add up, I only have to buy two jumbo boxes for around $30.

I have tons more grocery tips that I won't bore everyone with...I mean, I feed my family well, three meals a day plus drinks, snacks, treats, baked goods, etc...for under $600. And I don't necessarily buy a lot of generic and I never shop at the warehouse places...I've just (out of necessity) had to figure out tricks over the last six years. If you want more, just give me a mail!

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I think what you are spending is really reasonable. That is what we spend, and we are quite careful as well. We get our produce from a co-op which saves about 35.00 a week, then we make a weekly meal plan based on what produce we got. We buy hardly anything processed which helps in some ways and hurts in others (less money on chips and ice cream, but some healthy food can run higher in price). We stick to our list and use cash only so we cant overspend on grocery.

I am not sure what else you can cut back on. You might have to get creative, or maybe some of these other helpful ladies have some ideas. Can you carpool to save on gas? What about tv expenses? I have seen some articles on Yahoo recently on how people have cut their cable bill by routing their computer to the tv and watching shows via Or just do netflix and no cable. Good luck, I hope you get some good ideas. I just wanted to let you know I think the grocery budget seems good to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I know diapers are expensive, but $200/week seems a little high--especially if you are really trying to coupon & sale shop, etc.

How much is your car payment? That could be your issue there. (Insert Dave Ramsay commercial here) DR suggests NO car payment....sell car & buy O. for cash. Millionaires don't "do" car payments or buy "new" cars. Just not a financially sound decision.

What kind of "medical stuff" do you pay? Like your healthcare or are you trying to pay off large medical bills?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

If you haven't done so already, you should write down everything, every penny, that you spend for a month. Then categorize it so you can see exactly where your money goes. Then you'll have a better idea of where you can cut costs and if there are things in your spending that aren't actually necessities.

Also, Little Ceaser's has $5 large pizzas everyday :)



answers from Minneapolis on

She is local to Minneapolis/St. Paul but check out, she is fabulous. Another good website is loaded with TONS of information. So far this year I have saved over $1500 (I just went clearance clothes shopping today at JCPennys and it was all 80% off and then I had an additional 25% off but it is clothes that are the next size for the kids something that they are going to need at a really reduced rate!!).



answers from Colorado Springs on

You might want to check out and Both of these women have great tips on how to cut your spending.


answers from Kansas City on

Have you thought of switching to cloth diapers? The upfront cost can be alot, depending on how much and what kind anywhere from $100-$300 to get started, and buy more as you have money. But..if you have an 11 month old and a 3yo (are they potty trained?) you probably spend $30-$40 a week on diapers, that's over $100 a month multiplied by 12 months equals ALOT. Maybe you could take a bit of your income tax refund (if you get one) and give it a go. Send me a message if you have any questions!


answers from Detroit on

I don't know if there's a "normal" amount to spend on weekly groceries. I spend about $400 monthly. At home, we have my fiance and myself, two boys 5 and 7. I also buy organics and naturals, which generally cost a little more. But I buy meat in larger amounts and break it up before I freeze it. Maybe if you buy in bulk..... Also are you buying a lot of snack foods?



answers from Dallas on

Go get the book "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. You should make a budget and know where very single penny of your money is going. I think $200 a week is a little bit high. Do you buy all name brand products or do you get the store brand? Sometimes the price difference is only 30 cents or 50 cents, but that makes a difference when you are buying a cart full of groceries! And like someone else suggested, make sure you are only getting necessities until you figure out where all of your pennies are going. Good luck!


answers from Lansing on

I try to do a monthly budget, it's not easy...but it has to be done.

Instead of buying pizza once a week, take the $20 you spend a week and keep saving it, until you have a little nest egg. I know it's easier said then done, but in the long run, it's worth it.

I try to take $25 out of my check a week, and put it in a 'Christmas Fund' that I get the last week of October, and usually I have around $1200 by then, and I use a few hundred of that towards Christmas presents and stash the rest for either a rainy day or an emergency fund. My biggest expense other then my mortgage payment, is daycare (it's almost my mortgage payment). Although I hate paying that money every week/month I have to do it, until my mom retires, then my daycare expense will go down drastically!

I buy my meat in bulk (except chicken, I buy that at a meat market and not the grocery store). I buy a quarter of a cow twice a year. It costs more upfront, but in the end it equals to about $2 a pound and that feeds me, my daughter and family and friends (when we have get togethers).

I might suggest doing a spreadsheet. If you are doing exactly what you were doing while you were on unemployment, but are making more now, more money is going somewhere. A spreadsheet will help you figure that out.



answers from Johnstown on

If you're religious, your 1st 10% should go as your tithe. Your next 10% goes away as savings. You live off the rest. Don't spend your coins. Spend paper money only. Save the coins and cash them in every so often. I'm supporting a family of 5 on $120/week and it's been that way ever since my girls were in diapers. Buy fresh fruits and veggies that will actually satisfy your hunger and keep you from getting munchies later in the evenings. The next time you want to do the drive thru--put that money away and go home and make a hamburger instead or make a pizza for $7 instead of ordering one for $20. Take the extra money you saved by making your own and put it away. You'd be amazed how much the savings really do add up.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I bet a large part of your income goes to daycare, clothes for work and gas to get there and back. Do you LOVE your daycare? have you checked out costs at various daycares, especially home daycares. You may find a cheaper place still with good quality care for less money, particularly a home daycare, you could save $20-50 a week, that would really add up. $200 a week does sound a bit much for a family of four, are you buying what you really need or do you live where groceries are just expensive, this cost varies considerably from region to region. Also what kind of car do you drive and what is the year? Maybe selling 1 car and buying something older and cheaper, or smaller to save on gas would be an option.



answers from Rochester on

I started writing down our grocery purchases item by item, including quantity and cost (I organized it by department in the store). I did this for 4 weeks at a time for a few months to see where we were really spending well, where we were indulging too much, and where we were better off buying in bulk because it turned out we bought something too often or in too many convenience packages. That might help you get a more concrete view of your groceries. Check out Angel Food Ministries and if you like the menu any given month you can buy a box of food. I did the math locally and it was about $60 worth of food (cheapest equivalents at the grocer I go to) for about $30. It supplements your groceries, is not income-based or eligibility based, and is just an alternative way to shop (

Otherwise, if you don't have any services to cut out or back on, you could cut out the eating out or limit it to once a month. I don't think we even go out that often and it is a BIG deal to us when we do. We do not have any money left over at the end of the month and I usually end up spending our paychecks the day they go in, leaving enough for gas and child care each week, since I pay bills each pay period. It is always possible that your income is simply enough to live on, and in that case just try to be thankful that it IS enough. We have lived through times when it was not, and if you were out of work for a year you know what that is like. Give yourself some time, consider cutting back on your eating out for a few weeks at a time and save that, and go from there.

And it is hard to compare grocery costs, but I think we average about $600 to $700 a month (at the most) on groceries, including diapers, for 2 adults, a 4-year-old, and a 2 1/2 year old. I buy diapers in bulk at Sam's club about once every six weeks. My 4-year-old also often eats as much food as I do, sometimes more, in a day, so that has been an adjustment for us. I know it is not as much fun (or as convenient) as ordering a pizza, but we make pizza almost once a week and it is way better than take-out or pizza parlor pizza. That is one of our treats, and it is actually really easy and cheap to make. We also find we have company at least once a week for dinner, which means we are making a bit more. That is a hit we take because we like having our single guy friends over and they love hanging out with us and our kids. Oh yeah, one last thought, I mostly stopped buying paper towels and use cleaning rags (usually old t-shirts) which saves a lot, I make my own laundry soap, which saves a TON since I do a lot of laundry and our soap was full-price $3.99/bottle and the stuff you use to make it is SO cheap and lasts a long time (it is really fast and easy--I didn't believe it until a co-worker gave me some of hers with the recipe) and it works very well. I also use baking soda, vinegar, and borax for most of my cleaning, including making surface spray cleaners with borax, vinegar, water, and dish soap. That cuts back a lot of what I used to spend on cleaning supplies. Send me a note if you want the soap recipe, but you can find a few versions online, too.

Good luck! Sorry this is so long.



answers from Tampa on

Keep a list even if it's a simple list. Our grocery bill is about $200 a month. If not less. I get a lot of BOGO stuff with coupons and then weekly I get milk, bread and eggs. I make meals every day. I cut out everything from cable to magazine and anything in between. Maybe your spending more on groceries then you think. Or more with gas and daycare?

Also you might want to look into Dave Ramsey and see what you need to cut out. You will get there, it takes some time.


Keep a list even if it's a simple list. Our grocery bill is about $200 a month. If not less. I get a lot of BOGO stuff with coupons and then weekly I get milk, bread and eggs. I make meals every day. I cut out everything from cable to magazine and anything in between. Maybe your spending more on groceries then you think. Or more with gas and daycare?

Also you might want to look into Dave Ramsey and see what you need to cut out. You will get there, it takes some time.

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