Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Browsing through news articles shoved at me by msn.com this morning, I came across one called How to Build Your First Budget (here). Having taught myself how to budget and always feeling like I'm forgetting or missing something, I skim through such articles for tips on ways to improve upon what I do, so... "click". Blahblahblah, know that, yup, check, get to the second page and woah.

"Food: Basic groceries should cost a single person about $150 a month. You'll spend a lot more if you eat out frequently, however, or if you buy lots of processed foods, frozen dinners and gourmet stuff. Cut your food costs by bringing lunches and snacks from home. Substitute potlucks or picnics for expensive socializing at restaurants."

Um, $150 for one person for a month? That seemed a wee bit on the low side to even me, and after A. agreed with me, I dug into what the government had to say. According to the USDA's report the cost of food at home, the average cost to feed one male (age 19-50) in March 2008 was $162.50 on the thrifty plan. On the lost cost plan, it was $209.10. For the moderate cost plan it was $260. The liberal plan was $316.40. For females of the same age group, the numbers were lower: $145.80 for the thrifty, $182.70 for the low cost, $222.40 for the moderate cost, and $287 for the liberal. As far as I know, these numbers are JUST for food items, no toiletries, paper or pet products. The numbers for April 2008 haven't come out yet.

Ok, so maybe not so low, considering they did say about $150.

Still, the numbers for March looked... off... from what I based my last budget review on, so I pulled out the January 2008 numbers to compare. Despite the rising cost in everything but wages over the last five months, the USDA has determined that the average cost of food at home has gone down. Yes. DOWN. By $1-3 in most cases, between the months of January 2008 and March 2008.

Hmmm. The numbers go up between December 2007 and January 2008, and then they start falling. I have to wonder if that's because some people just aren't able to afford to eat any longer.

Needless to say, the geek in me is eager for April's numbers to come out. I'm curious to see if the average price goes up or down. Based on my budget, they should be going up because for the third month in a row I've gone over budget. (I currently budget $480 a month for two adults, one child (girl, age 11), two felines, and that $480 includes all pet food and supplies, personal grooming, toiletries, cleaning, and paper products the household may need, as well as AC filters.)

Also needless to say, I think maybe I need a hobby I can afford to actually do because I'm enjoying comparing the monthly numbers waaaay too much. (LOL)

In other news, I went walking again this morning and determined that I like the earlier (6am) start time rather than the later (almost 630am) start time of today. While it was lighter outside (meaning I didn't have to carry a flashlight), there were more cars leaving the complex and spewing noxious exhaust at me as they passed. Yuck. So we'll get up a little earlier and be out the door by no later than 610am.

I also have my car today! This means that I can go pay for the Angel Food boxes today. Assuming someone is there to take the money.

Even though I have the car today, I'm not going shopping for the baby present(s) I need to get before next weekend. I'll save that for another day. I do need to go to the library though. Apparently, when you turn dvd cases back in, they like the dvds to be in them.

After watching the plants yesterday to see how much sun they actually got all day long, I'm more convinced than ever that they need to be in a wagon (or something) so that I can roll them around to the front of the building on days when I'm home. Of course, after reading more about the types of plants that were brought home, I'm also convinced that the lady at the garden center was a wee bit delusional when she told us that the size pots we got would be fine until the very end of the growing season because all my plants need to be in bigger pots. Much bigger pots. The recommended size is "no smaller than a 5-gallon bucket". Oh, sure, they can be potted in smaller, but they won't grow well because of a confined root system. And while I would have preferred to know that before hand, the little plants can sit in the little pots for another few weeks (though that one tomato plant might need to be replanted this weekend, and much deeper). By then it'll be obvious whether or not I'm killing them, and if they're dying, then there's no reason to repot them.

And I'm off to run what errands I can before it gets ghastly hot.

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