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Have you heard the one about the homeschooling family that lives on less than $22K a year in an area that costs above 100% (116%) of the National CoL Index?

I haven't quite figured out why so many people still persist in perpetuating the myth that living on a single income and homeschooling on a dime aren't possible. I can only suppose these are people who can't imagine life without a daily trip to Starbucks and dinner out several times a week. The people who actually shop at malls (*shudder*) and think "Brand Name = Best". The people who really live by the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

That? Would not be us!

Welcome to our world. We cook from scratch. Buy from thrift stores. Find 95% of our homeschool materials for free. This is my blog and this is how we do it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm supposed to spend HOW much?

Have a look at THE USDA FOOD PLANS: COST OF FOOD CHART for May. (The latest figures.)

Here are my family's numbers, per month:
Thrifty Plan: $567.80
Low Cost Plan: $739.40
Moderate Plan: $920.00
Liberal Plan: $1121.30 (Oh, come on!)

Considering we only actually spend around $190 - I guess the government must think we're starving to death. And my total includes things like toilet paper and shampoo. So I'm trying to decide what to call my actual costs. Is it the Conservative Plan? (Hee.) The Yes, People Really Live Like This Plan? The Reality Plan?

This chart says "Cost of Food at Home" (emphasis added). I could see where dining out very frequently would run your bill up to over $1100. But eating strictly at home? Yikes!

And just in case you were really wondering, here's where the government thinks your food dollars are going: RECIPES AND TIPS FOR HEALTHY, THRIFTY MEALS.

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Blogger Tersie said...

What an interesting post! Thanks for posting the link to the USDA food plans. When my ex-husband was still living with us, it felt like I was spending a ton of money on food. It turns out that according to this chart we were spending just barely over the thrifty plan! Now with just myself and the two kids, I'm spending half of what they suggest our family would need for the thrifty plan. I still feel I could be a little more thrifty. Okay a LOT more thrifty. I see some places where I'm wasting money that I can change right away. I'm still learning! Thanks for your tips! :)

June 29, 2007 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

:) Well, if you're at half the thrifty plan, you're doing pretty good! I know we all have places we could do better and I am so loving the internet for providing us a way to share ideas!

June 29, 2007 at 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah ha! That is hilarious! Here are our numbers:

Thrifty: $693.90
Low cost: $896.90
Moderate: $1102.20
Liberal: $1338.70

Wow! The liberal plan is a modest house payment! We really spend somewhere around $400-500 per month, which I KNOW can be pared WAY down (working on this). If I spend my budgeted $600, we are eating like kings! What a laugh!

I would really love to get our monthly grocery budget (including non-food grocery items like cleaners, deodorants, etc.) down to what it costs to feed a 15yo boy on the liberal plan (something like $304/month).

I did like the book tho, I found it interesting enough to save a copy to read later. Thanks for posting this!

June 29, 2007 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous ArdenLynn said...

The numbers are way off. For my family of 9 we should be spending $249 a week. We come in for under half of that. It's a fun exercise though.

June 29, 2007 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger gr8tful4grace said...

I'm a thrifty spender, but we're a family of six and we're spending about $500.00 a month. I feel like I should be able to do better, but can never get under that $500.00 mark. Maybe it's that we are a family of six, but four of us are teens or older? I'm a bit discouraged...with the rise in cost of everything...~Yvonne

June 29, 2007 at 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. L said...

I think we are doing very well. Our budget right now is $100/month for 2 and the thrifty plan is $324.60/month for 2. So we are eating on less than 1/3 of the lowest plan. We do not live in a low-cost living area either.

I am trying to accomplish this from pretty much total scratch cooking as well as free-almost-free hba/cleaning items (coupons), less meat and then marked-down produce when available. Yes, it takes more time, but it's doable if one doesn't buy a lot of convenience foods. Another plus is I always know the ingredients of my meals (I shop pretty much like you, Jenni - for ingredients).

Jenni, I appreciate the idea of you mentioning mixes - I started to make some myself and it's a big help, thanks.

June 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger EPM said...

This is so amazing I just had to link to this post of yours on my blog! Thanks for sharing with us!

June 29, 2007 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Just Me, Jenni said...

Yvonne, {{HUGS}} I know how frustrating it can be! I think the worst thing about "getting older" isn't the appearance of laugh lines - (I'm kinda proud of those, actually.) - but the recognition of the price increases that don't seem to be accompanied by salary increases. This morning in the grocery store, as I was looking at the meat, I suddenly remembered shopping shortly after marrying my husband, and how 1 pound of ground beef was only about 85 cents - regular price, not on sale.

But you should still congratulate yourself on any and all efforts you make, because you are doing what you can to be responsible and care for your family. That's the most important part. Work on it a step at a time and try to focus on the positives. And I'll take my own advice here and quit looking at food items and saying, "I remember when this only cost...!" and just be thankful that I'm able to squeeze out enough pennies to keep the my family fed.

I am encouraged by all the comments here, knowing there are still plenty of families who are making things work on much less money than the government and so-called "experts" tell us we can. And if we keep sharing ideas, we'll all be helping one another. :)

epm - thanks for the mention on your blog. I appreciate it!

June 30, 2007 at 1:49 PM  

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