How much should I spend on food?
These types of questions seem to keep popping up.
And I understand why – because I, too, have looked for the same kind of answers – especially when I was new to realistic budgeting.
I had no idea where to start – and clearly what I had been doing wasn’t working. So I was hoping that someone else could tell me what to do!
But after almost five years of living by a budget, I have learned that there is no “should” answer.
At least not if you’re looking for a set amount – spend x on food, spend y on housing.
Instead of plugging in a percentage, for every item in our budget, we need to determine its amount by asking ourselves two questions:
#1. How much do I earn? Does this item fit within my disposable income?
#2. What are my priorities? Does the amount that I am spending on this item reflect my priorities?
Some of us earn more, some of us earn less, but unless you are a multi-millionaire (in which case, you probably aren’t reading KOAB anyway), you really should be asking yourselves these two questions – often.
And yet, that doesn’t stop us from wondering, even if we have a balanced budget – “Is my spending normal?”
I know I do! I wonder if the $200 we spend each month on gas is a lot – or a little. And yes, I will admit that knowing that it costs me less to fill up my van than the national average does comfort me somehow.
Rent / Mortgage – 31.5%
Utilities – 5.4%
Groceries – 8.6% (up from 7% three years ago, but still less than half what it was 25 years ago)
Food at Restaurants – 5.7%
Alcohol – .9%
Clothing & Shoes – 3% (women spend about 1.5 times what men do)
Car Payments – 5.7%
Gasoline – 5.3%
Tuition and childcare – 3%
I was feeling pretty good about our comparative spending until I got to that tuition and childcare line.
What about you? Do you wonder what you “should” be spending?What about that tuition line? Did that 3% feel like a swift kick in the gut?