Financial Goals for November

food budget pie chart

I can not believe it’s already November! Doesn’t it seem like I was just posting about my OCTOBER monthly goals?!

As you might recall, this past month, we were attempting to scale way back after a rather expensive September. We had bumped up our spending in September by several hundred dollars in order to accommodate for the Jewish holidays.

In October, we wanted to correct course by cutting our food budget all the way down to $400, plus another $100 for our bulk orders. (I try to put something aside every month for these orders — if I don’t spend it, I roll it over to the next month.)

So, how’d we do? Well not bad, but not great either. We exceeded our food budget by about 12% – or $48.44. I put together this nifty little pie chart to help me and my husband get a better sense of where our money is going.

Seeing it like this really makes me realize that even though I think we are being careful at Costco, that store is clearly getting a disproportionate bulk of our grocery & household spending dollars. Fortunately we were a bit under budget on fuel, clothing and personal care, so those surpluses were able to absorb our food overage.

$400 Food Budget for November

I’m a believer in audacious goals, so despite our short-comings in October, I think I’ve convinced my husband to aim once again for spending just $400 in November. We will also put another $50 into our bulk food orders.

Money is tight this month as a number of my freelance projects didn’t finish in time to invoice them for October. I know the money is coming, but until it’s in our checking account, I don’t like to spend it — not even on paper. Hopefully December’s food budget will be able to be a bit larger.

Freezer Cooking

Another priority for November is to restock our freezer with easy meals and quick breakfasts. Thanks for all the great suggestions on my Grab-n-Go Breakfast Recipe Exchange. I’ve got ingredients on hand to make zucchini muffins, pumpkin bread, and more breakfast “cookies”, which should help our harried mornings to at least be a bit more healthful.

I am also further streamlining my menu so I can shop in bulk at the beginning of the month and then make up as many meals as possible to store in the freezer. I wish I had more time and energy to make elaborate meals for dinner each night, but I just don’t. The easier it is for me to prep dinner, the happier everyone is. So, I’m embracing that reality — for now — while leaving myself a little room to get creative for our Shabbat meals.

Reorganizing the Kitchen

A few days ago, I started a major kitchen reorganization, and I plan to continue it into November. When we moved into our house in February, I was so in love with the aesthetics of our new kitchen that I figured I could cope with the fact that it’s basically just one long wall with insufficient storage and counter space.

It wasn’t so bad at the beginning, but after cooking for the chagim, I became completely frustrated. Which meant I was less inclined to want to cook — which meant we spend more money on “convenience items”. Not a good cycle to be in!

kitchen organizing containers

In an effort to make my kitchen more functional — and me less frustrated — I have started rearranging cupboards and  moving supplies. I bought a number of these awesome Oxo Good Grips Storage Containers, which are helping me turn a disastrous pantry into a fully operational banking cupboard. (Look for a before and after post later this month!) Of course, I used Swagbucks to cover almost 70% of my order! Love those Swagbucks.

I’ve got more minor tweaks planned, which will hopefully be both frugal and functional. Assuming all goes well, look for a post from me toward the end of the month about reorganizing your kitchen on the cheap!

What are your priorities — financial or otherwise — for the month of November? With 2010 coming to a rapid close, if you still have goals unmet, now is the time to get at them!


  1. I am impressed by your budgeting and even more impressed by the fact you can make a pie chart from your receipts. I save them, as if I am going to do some high level math with them, then eventually they get tossed in the trash so the counters are clean before Shabbat. You are an inspiration. So maybe I will track our grocery expenses for a bit so I can get a handle on it. Without metrics there is no way to improve!

    What I found interesting was that you were 12% over with just $43. At our house that is just a few impulse buys – a case of San Pelegrino at Costco because we all ‘like’ it or some yummy desserts from the Middle Eastern Stire near our house. Impulse buys add up quickly!!

    • I know, the impulses are killer. And yes, when your whole food budget is just 400$, it’s easier to go over 🙁

      Don’t be too impressed by my pie chart! We had that same issue with receipts. That’s why I tried cash, but Frankie really didn’t like it. That’s why I switched us to using ING to have a dedicated food & household checking account. No matter how you do it, though, you are 1000% right that without metrics, you have no way to improve!

  2. Can’t wait to see how you reorganized the kitchen! As you may have guessed I’m, shall we say, enthusiastic about organization. We just started a Costco membership and I feel like the jury’s out on whether it’s good or bad for our food budget. (Definitely great savings on things like eyeglasses and some household goods.)

    My goals? Inspired by KOAB, I’m going to track everything we spend this month. I’m also trying really hard to get the hang of coupons (beyond the basic “I need that and it’s 25 cents off,” I mean). I just don’t see many for things I buy. I never thought of myself as brand-loyal but how many brands of kosher organic tomatoes in bpa-free cans are there out there? (Muir Glen is the one I know.) Maybe I should seek out coupons on manufacturers’ websites? Hmmm.

    • Ah yes, brand loyalty! I have it on my calendar to write a post about that… and how it’s the downfall of all good bargain shoppers 😉

      The BPA thing is inordinately frustrating. Even organic beans, vegetables, etc. have it in them. And then when you email them to find out, they are all sketchy about it, which makes you feel like WHO CAN YOU TRUST?! Upsetting 🙁

  3. I really love those containers and I think my November goal will be to look into Swagbucks. Besides that, my financial goal for the rest of 2010 is to collect everything clients owe me because our taxes are going up. I don’t need to take a pay cut on January 1 if the Congress allows everything to expire.

    I managed to pull our pantry under control by saving up different size containers from things like pre-peeled garlic. But, I’m imagining that I might be one of the few people that buys garlic by the gallon.

Leave a Comment