There are plenty of categories that should be standard in a household budget. These include mortgage or rent payments, fuel or transportation and utilities. Without a category to keep track of these items someone could be kicked out of their residence, not be able to get anywhere and possibly have their water or electricity turned off. Another item that needs a mandatory place in the budget is groceries. Yet, sometimes this is left out.
For a single person who lives on mac & cheese and Ramen noodles, a grocery category may not be needed, although a medical entry needs to be added in order to pay for the eventual high cholesterol and hypertension medicines. The same can’t be said for a couple or a small family. It’s these situations that a grocery budget is essential. Below are some reasons why it should definitely be considered.
Groceries are expensive. And they get pricier each day, despite news saying costs have dropped. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the average monthly amount spent for a family of four ranges from $560 to $1300, with the amount depending on the shopper’s level of thriftiness or liberalness while at the supermarket. Even the lowest average amount is a significant bite out of a middle-income budget. Maintaining an expense category for this helps to moderate the costs.
Meal planning. How can someone plan a week’s worth of meals without knowing how much money is available to do so? What about planning a party or other special occasion where food is the main component? You can’t do much of either without a budget category. Well, you could, but it could be slim pickings for family members and guests. Setting up a food budget allows to accommodate for special events and meals.
Going local, or organic, or clean. Let’s say you want to change your family’s diet from one of processed foods to one where they eat clean and organic products with no GMOs and few ingredients. Take a trip to Whole Foods or the local natural foods store and you’ll see that prices are much higher than what you’d find at the local chain supermarket. Want to take it one step further and only eat items locally grown and raised? Well, that’s going to cost even more as you focus purchases at farmers’ markets and other nearby locations.
There’s a good chance you could spend close to the maximum average should you decide to switch to this form of diet, and this means you’re going to have to find the necessary funds. This won’t happen without a budget category. In fact, you may end up taking money allocated to other categories to pay for the eating change. By preparing ahead of time and placing money in a grocery category you can switch to clean eating without cleaning out the bank.