January Expenses and February Grocery Challenge!

Here’s how the last month shook out:


  • Income: Great. Supplemented the stipend with some solid tutoring money and $60 for a research study1Done back in December that also involved a free bowl of oatmeal. Win-win!
  • Rent, Internet, Running, Medical/Dental, Charity, Cell Phone, Electric: Pretty standard. Not much to report. We still don’t use the heat, but we’ve got a lot of stuff plugged in and we use the oven and washer/dryer. Still, electric was pretty good this month and I actually paid a little more than 1/3 cause Joe and Other Roommate were gone a lot.
  • Groceries: Not bad, but not as good as I imagined it would be given that I had a lot of food going into the month. More on this below!
  • Restaurants: Pretty out of control. I’ve been thinking that instead of all these little purchases I should just not eat out at all for 2 months then go to a ridiculously fancy dinner. But that would involve missing a lot of social opportunities. Still might try it. Blog experiment??
  • Car: Driving is expensive. I should use the electric bike more often (I’m a wimp in the cold).
  • Travel: Out of control as usual.
  • Misc: A little high but when Zac Brown Band is coming to your city money is no longer an object. Also I really thought getting rid of ads on the Accuweather app would speed it up but it’s still terribly slow.
  • Profit and Saving rate: Crushed it this month! I’ve kind of had an unspoken goal to save $1k in a month for a while now, and I finally did it. Also 38% is my highest saving rate since I started tracking expenses back in September. Great success.

Summary and Averages

Categories  January December Rolling 6 month Average 
Saving rate  38.0% 27.8%  27.7% 
Time to Financial Independence2Based on this. Assumes a starting net worth of $0, so actual numbers are a little better than what’s shown.  22.8 years 29.6 years  29.7 years 
Monthly Expenses  $1725.36 $1836.69 $1850.91 
$ Required to be Financially Independent3Multiply the above by 300 $517,608  $551,007  $555,276 

February Grocery Challenge

For a long time, I’ve felt that I’m really bad at grocery shopping. I just go to the store, wander around, waste time, and even though I’m trying to be frugal still spend more than I expect to. But I think I’ve been getting a little better at it lately, and want to see what I can do if I push myself a little. With that in mind along with inspiration from Lauren’s experience living on a food budget of $2/day, I would like to announce:

THE FEBRUARY GROCERY CHALLENGE: Spend $80 or less per person on groceries this month.

That’s right, I’m challenging YOU to do it with me. And if you already bought groceries before reading this we won’t even count that against you–you can start now. Another caveat: If you’re making something for a super bowl party you can deduct those costs from your total4Since this applies to me, hehe.

The math works nicely in February to exactly $20 per week. My plan is to visit the grocery store 4 times and try to stay under that budget each time. Honestly, when I think about it it seems very doable. But we’ll see if I–I mean WE–can pull it off. Good luck!

2 response to "January Expenses and February Grocery Challenge!"

  1. By: Alex Posted: February 2, 2019

    I am interested in grocery challenge but it seems impossible. What do you recommend as a strategy?

    • By: Joey Posted: February 2, 2019

      Hey Alex, great question! First, I will say that I’m cheating a bit because I’m going into the month pretty well stocked on snacks and rice, which ensures that there won’t be a major costco-style restocking anytime soon. Still, I think I eat much more than the average person so I think it’s possible for anyone. Anyway, tips:

      — There is a certain Kroger nearby and with the same name as a road we ran on several weeks ago. I like to shop there.
      — When foods there get close to their expiration date, they are heavily discounted. For example, this morning I bought 5 Kroger-brand yogurts for 19 cents each. And 12 bread rolls for just over $1. And 8 chicken thighs for 4 dollars.
      — Speaking of chicken, it’s pretty cheap. Whole chickens there are .99/lb. Let me know if you want an awesome and easy recipe for whole roast chicken.
      — Download digital coupons. I like eggs, and right now there’s a coupon for $1 off 18 eggs. Just scroll through and see which coupons line up with what you buy.
      — Be smart with fruit. Bananas are really cheap, and buying whole pineapples is also pretty cheap per serving. And sometimes those go on sale at Kroger for $1 each! I’ll probably take a break from apples till March unless I’m well under budget.
      — You can also cheat by ending the month with a little less food in the kitchen than you start the month with :).

      Anyway, hope that helps and that you join the challenge!!!

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