I budget $180 a month for my family of 4 and 2 cats. I
won't count the beta fish because it's little can of
food will probably last longer than it will.

This includes all toiletries, paper products, and
whatever else you can buy at the grocery store. I
won't say that I never go over, but usually I have a
tight week where tips (I waitress) were lackluster or
something and I scrimp that week and go over the next,
so it evens out.

I was talking about this with my family last night. My
mom and dad (empty nesters) said they spend $60-80 a
week, which add up to more than I spend. She blamed it
on my dad's low-fat, low cholesterol diet but I think
it's that she sends my dad shopping and they buy all
their meat at the farmer's market for $3-5 a pound.
Then they also eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies. My
sister said she spends about $400 a month, for
herself, her DH and one DD (age 9). They buy deer park
bottled water and have a lot of brand preferences. I
started explaining how I do it, but then the excuses
started coming. People have to want to do this frugal

When I gave my speech about how much better we have it
than the rest of the world, my mom asked if was I
trying to make her feel guilty. I wasn't. Anyway, I
gave 'em some tips and then dropped it. I don't think
people realize how much their lives could change if
they were better stewards of their money. Here my
parents are, worrying about paying off debts and
retirement in 10-15 years, still paying a mortgage,
and whatnot, but throwing $1-200 a month away on
unnecessarily expensive food. That couple thousand
dollars a year could fund an IRA or pay off the
mortgage years earlier. For me, it's the difference
between me being at home with the kids (DD-11 needs me
as much if not more than DS-3) and having to go get a
FT job somewhere.
As far as saving change, we have a little over $700 in
a vacation account at the credit union for our trip to
Disney next year. I keep the change in an old

spaghetti sauce jar without the lid because I like to
count it every week and roll it up to take to the

BTW, avoid those Coinstar machines that count your
change for you at the supermarket. They take 8 1/2
cents from every dollar of change you pour in as a
"fee." What a giant rip-off!

Jen K in PA


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