Are you stealing from the future?



Rather than thinking about expenses in terms of money, I want you to consider expenses in terms of your time. Calculate how much money you make per hour; then consider how much of your time is being spent to acquire your next purchase. You aren’t spending your money, you’re spending your time! Think about that new iPhone you really want. You know the one with all the latest features, the one everyone else will have. Take that $1,000 price tag and divide it by your hourly wage and consider how much time you are really paying for the latest gadget. Is it really worth that much of your time? Don’t forget that time is finite (it’s not renewable) – try as you may, you can’t create more time. Once you use it – it’s gone!


Let’s say you do the math and determine it’s still worth it. I also want you to consider the opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is an accounting term that refers to the foregone value of an alternative (#FOMO, #YOLO).  What are you giving up by spending the money now? What is the cost of missing out on an alternative use of this money?


Let’s use an example to illustrate the opportunity cost concept. Let’s stick with the $1,000 iPhone (might be more than a week’s worth of your wages). That same $1,000 could be used, instead, to invest in your retirement; that’s the alternative in this example. That same $1,000 will become almost $16,000 in 30 years (10% compounded annually). So the opportunity cost of choosing to spend $1,000 now, is short-changing your retirement by about $16,000. Are you stealing from the future? Your future. Are your purchasing decisions today delaying your financial independence day?


I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend money, certainly not, but I do want you to consider the consequences of your purchasing decisions and I believe you should ask some hard questions before you buy:


1)            Can I really afford this? Does it fit in my monthly budget (w/out debt)


2)            Is it a good value? Remember, Price is what you pay, value is what you get. Do some research online and compare this item to it’s competitors; maybe there is an alternative (used maybe) that costs less?


3)            Is this item really going to make me happier two weeks from now?


4)             Does this help or hurt my goal of financial independence?


5)            Do I want to look rich or be rich? You probably can’t do both.


6)            Is it really worth the time I am going to have to work to earn it?


7)            How long would I have to save to pay cash for it? If it’s truly a priority then make the effort to set aside enough money up-front.


How do the rich spend their money?


Ever wonder what the “rich” spend their money on? I found an answer online (see monthly summary below): The Consumer Expenditure Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), September 2015 (latest available), higher income before taxes table.


I focused on those making more than $150,000, but this table also has 8 other categories, starting with $70,000 (and below), $70,000 – 79,999, and so forth.


I use this information not necessarily as a guide, but rather as a useful starting point to compare your household spending to. The percentages are probably more relevant than the absolute dollars because, more than likely, these households have a higher income (average of $242,681 pre-tax) than your particular situation. Having said that, if you spend more, in real dollars, or on a percentage basis, than these benchmarks, then I would argue you have room for improvement.   .     .


housing $3,303 30%
transportation $1,629 15%
food $1,138 10%
healthcare $686 6%
entertainment $593 5%
charity $457 4%
clothing $393 4%
retirement/SS/ins $1,833 17%
miscellaneous $846 8%


Compare your spending in each of these categories – in absolute terms and as a percentage of your total expenses. The BLS methodology only captures consumer spending; note they exclude Federal/State income taxes from this calculation. It does appear to capture social security withholding (included in the retirement line), along with life insurance and personal pensions.


If you have never done a budget before, this is a great opportunity to get started! Today! Don’t wait! This BLS template is not perfect, but I do think it’s a good place to begin – especially since you have some references to compare to.  I plan to do another post on how much you “should” spend in each category, but for today let’s just do some window shopping.


The BLS table is incredibly long and contains a ridiculous amount of data, but I think it’s a really helpful resource because it makes it easier to compare your household spending to households of similar income and resources; and how they prioritize their spending.

Again, I am not saying these reference points are the correct level of spending – in many cases I would argue their priorities are a little wonky; nonetheless, it should help you in analyzing your own finances and will show you areas that you are better than average (woo hoo!) as well as some areas that you are worse than average – that’s really an opportunity to do better and set some new goals – I know I am motivated to reduce the amount I spend on food .     .    .


Some notes about how the BLS summarizes things. Housing includes anything and everything associated with the house, including: mortgage payment(s), property taxes, property insurance, utilities, household items (including the kitchen sink), repairs, maintenance, furniture, appliances, etc. (you get the idea).  I will provide a few sub-categories (below) to illustrate, for the whole table see the hyper-link below.


$1,264 per month for principal, interest, and property taxes (not insurance)

$267 per month for housing repairs, maintenance, and insurance

$322 for electricity, natural gas, and water bills

$129 for cell phone service


food also has many categories and sub-categories, but a couple data points:


$546 in groceries per month

$592 in restaurant spending per month


some transportation details:


$611 per month for car payments

$326 per month for gasoline

$177 per month for car insurance


Way too many details to list .     .     .


Look for the “higher income table” and the XLSX link at the bottom of the BLS consumer expenditure page (see link below)


Improve your critical thinking skills

Deep thoughts


I read a good article in Strategic Finance magazine (yep, I’m that big of a nerd) and thought I would try to summarize their article on how to develop and grow your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking, IMHO, will help you, in most aspects of your life, including on your personal financial journey.


Critical thinking is a manner of thinking that employs curiosity, skepticism, analysis, and logic where:


Curiosity means wanting to learn,


Creativity means viewing information from multiple perspectives,


Skepticism means maintaining a “trust but verify” mind set,


Analysis means systematically examining and evaluating evidence, and


Logic means reaching well-founded conclusions.


Why do you need strong critical thinking skills?  Because you need to expand your personal accountability beyond value stewardship (sticking to a budget) to include value creation (increasing your net worth!), with increasing responsibility for strategy (don’t let your finances happen to you, be intentional about where you want to go – set goals!).

One of their suggestions is to focus on data analysis (use your personal financial history), in order to improve critical thinking skills – to think analytically and apply tools to help extract insights and actionable information from data.  The data analysis process:


1)      Identify data analysis opportunity

2)      Specify the objectives of the analysis

3)      Develop expectations

4)      Analyze the data and investigate

5)      Evaluate the results

6)      Formulate a remedial action plan


Assess your critical thinking


  • How often do I ask insightful “why” questions?
  • How frequently do I generate compelling new ideas?
  • How inclined am I to challenge the validity of new information?
  • How vigorously do I tackle unfamiliar, complex problems?
  • How adept am I at making decisions under uncertainty?


One of the suggested critical thinking activities is to perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis (see a good explanatory video below – I know the process is designed for business but I think you can apply to your personal finances too).  I suggest you perform a SWOT analysis of your personal finances; maybe budgeting is a weakness for your household. One of my weaknesses is going out to eat.   .     .


Anyhow, I thought it was a good, thought-provoking article.


Think like a boss! Save $858 on your iPhone

think like a boss

Per a recent survey, people age 18-36 spend $2,300 more per year, than those age 37 and older, on groceries, gasoline, restaurants, and cellphone bills.


98% of people age 18-36 have a smartphone, I wouldn’t have thought it possible for 98% of a group to agree on anything, just sayin’.   .     .


You don’t need a new smartphone every year! My analysis (see below) says you can save $858 (over 4 years), if you purchase your favorite iPhone, rather than lease (it’s pronounced FLEECE!)

to obtain a great deal of money from (someone), typically by overcharging or swindling them” (definition of fleece, per the inter-web)


Let’s review Apple’s lease program (“iPhone upgrade program”) and Think like a boss. This program “requires a 24-month installment agreement”.  Let’s do one renewal to get a 4-year look.  Apple’s lease is $45.75 per month for the iPhone 7 plus 256 GB (per Apple’s website).  This plan allows you to rent an iPhone directly (actually tied to a credit card from Citizens One) from Apple, requiring you to return the phone after 12 months, at which point you are “allowed” to rent another iPhone for 12 months, and so on.    .     .


$45.75 per month for 2 years (initial 2 year term) is $1,098

$45.75 per month for 2 more years (next 2 year term) is $1,098

Total spend for 4 years is $2,196

This is all expense – at the end of the 4 year period – you own nothing.


Compare to a 2 year buy-and-hold purchase plan


Purchase an iPhone 7 plus 256 GB for $969

Purchase a second (after 2 years) iPhone 7 plus 256 GB for another $969

Total spend for 4 years is $1,938, but you also own 2 iPhones at this point; you could then sell each for maybe $300 (on ebay for example); the net spend would then be $1,338, or $27.88 per month.


The buy-and-hold strategy saves $858 over 4 years! (not to mention activation fees and other transaction fees).  You could save even more if you kept the same initial iPhone for 4 years.


After about 500 charges, a typical smartphone battery will no longer hold a full charge – meaning you will have to recharge it more often – probably more than once a day.

This condition leads many to decide to purchase a new phone – for many this involves debt or a lease (and a new 2 year contract with your cell phone carrier). The less expensive option would be to get a new battery ($60 from batteries plus) and keep your paid-for device for another year or two. This strategy also helps to keep you debt-free and to have the ability to sign-up for a no contract plan with your carrier (including the ability to switch carriers anytime).


Millionaires tend to keep high quality items for a fairly long time, to keep their monthly costs to a minimum; do your research and buy a high quality smartphone. I have had my iPhone 6S for almost 2 years now (fully paid for). I actually recommend you keep your smartphone for 3 or 4 years (if you really want to cut down on your monthly expenses). I really don’t recommend financing (debt) any depreciating asset (goes down in value over time); that will just weigh you down with higher monthly expenses. I would rather you save up and buy a smartphone (with cash! preferably used) and then get a no-contract cell phone plan; rather than leasing and being forced to sign a new two-year contract (perpetually in debt). After 3 or 4 years, sell your used smartphone and use that cash towards the purchase of your next smartphone. By bringing your own smartphone, you will reduce the price of your cell phone plan by $30 to $40 per month. That $30 – $40 per month is the “rent” you are paying to use their smartphone.


Think of it this way, it isn’t a smart business decision to purchase a new lexus every year – you would spend a tremendous amount on a depreciating asset (especially over time) – that’s not smart.     .     . Keeping possessions longer is a winning strategy that helps reduce your monthly expenses and hopefully keeps you debt-free too!



Top ways to reduce your heating and cooling cost

LL cool j

Don’t call it a comeback! (the quintessential and incomparable LL Cool J)

Today, I want you to look at how much you pay for heating and cooling your home. I’ll share what I pay, and what I have done to trim this monthly expense, without sacrificing comfort, I really do enjoy AC , especially during the dog days of summer; for those of you keeping score at home, that’s now.   .     .


Here (southern piedmont of NC), in our household, we spent $1,921 on heating and cooling in 2016, or about $160 per month (2,426 square feet, built in 1996, HVAC gas pack – heat pump for AC, nat gas for heat). It was $175 per month in 2015 and it’s $140 per month, so far, in 2017 (first 6 months). One of the reasons it’s down the last couple years is milder weather, as well as lower commodity prices, but I still want you to review the list below and see if there is something you can do, to pay less, for the same service! (this is where you dance uncontrollably).


I get a monthly report from Duke Energy (see pic below) that shows how my electric usage compares to the mythological “efficient” home. I’m so competitive that I have to be better than this “efficient” home. (channel your inner LL Cool J)





I work for a utility company (electric and natural gas), so this is an area I’m pretty passionate about (if you couldn’t already tell). Here are some of the things I have done – mostly as suggestions from one of our internal energy auditors (he also has an HVAC license):


1) I made an attic tent (plywood and silver insulation) to cover the pull-down stairs opening that goes to our attic (2 story house). Pull-down stairs are rarely insulated and are one of the biggest areas of lost energy in a typical home.


2) I caulked around all my windows – this apparently wasn’t done during construction – so this might not be something you need to do.


3) I put silver insulation backing on the door to the eaves (similar to the attic tent).


4) I put outlet gaskets on all of my outside facing walls. Outlet gaskets are really inexpensive – I think I paid $.25 each. Outlets are rarely insulated.


5) programmable thermostats – buy them, use them! If you are going to be gone for 8 hours or more (e.g., while at work), raise the temp (in the summer) at least 5 degrees (don’t recommend more than 10 degrees) – do likewise in the winter. We set it at 77 during the day (when we are away) and 72 at night. We program differently for Monday-Friday and Saturday/Sunday because we are home more on weekends.


6) buy a couple ceiling fans for areas you spend most of your time in (for us this is the bonus room – bedroom already had one). Fans don’t help heat or cool, but they do make us feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer (counter-clockwise in summer, clockwise in winter).


We probably spent $200 to $300 on these projects, with the ceiling fan being the most expensive – note we already had the programmable thermostats. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, I recommend you research the nest – I understand it gets really good reviews. These are all DIY projects so we didn’t hire any of these projects out.


Do you have any other ideas for saving on heating and cooling?  Are you willing to share what you pay per month to heat and cool your home?  Please join the conversation by adding a comment below.

Top 10 habits of happy people



Happiness, for some it’s an elusive pursuit of a mirage in the desert – always within sight but just out-of-reach. For others, it seems to come naturally. What makes them different? I came across an article in Forbes that started with people who were already happy and ranked the top 10 things they had in common. Let’s dive right in.


1) They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures (the mountains are calling and I must go – hey, you only live once)


2) They exercise (you already knew this one, they regularly schedule it and follow through)


3) They spend money on other people (giving will change your perspective on life)


4) They surround themselves with the right people (avoid negative influences)


5) They stay positive (stop complaining so much)


6) They get enough sleep (really helps with mood, focus, energy and self-control, also reduces stress)


7) They have deep conversations (avoid gossip and judging others; instead, build a connection with someone)


8) They help others (it’s a positive influence on your mood, but don’t over-commit)


9) They make an effort to be happy (attitude is a choice – work at it)


10) They have a growth mindset (you can improve with effort, challenges are really opportunities to learn something new)


That’s a great list! I will put a link to the whole article below.


Actually, happiness doesn’t really last. I would rather you had joy and contentment – which are really choices. Paul, from the Bible, said:


“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)


I strongly suggest you read “the purpose driven life” by Rick Warren – it will change your perspective because “it’s not about you”. It’s about the quest for personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning in life.


My point is that these habits affect all aspects of your life – including your finances!

For example, many of these habits could lead to a promotion at work. Many of these habits will lead to a healthier lifestyle – I think everyone would agree that healthcare costs are getting really expensive. Having these habits and knowing your purpose in life will help when you encounter challenges and obstacles on your personal financial journey.


This is a shorter than normal post but I want you to think about your daily choices and where you can improve!

Financial independence

First of all, if today’s post sounds a little wonky, it’s because I am flying solo this week. My wife (aka super-mom) is at boy-scout camp (volunteering) with our son. In addition to being a great wife and mom, she is also my editor, so let me apologize in advance if this entry is less than stellar (or as my son might say “epic fail”).  Anyhow, the show must go on.



Today, I want you to start with the end-goal in mind and work backwards (I know that sounds crazy, but stick with me). Conventional wisdom says you need to accumulate 25X your annual retirement expenses to achieve financial independence (the freedom to stop working, if you so choose). I will do a separate post on how to calculate your annual retirement expenses, but for starters you could use 70% of your salary as an estimate.


Let’s stick with that 25X goal (at least for now) and then decide when you want to achieve your personal financial independence day. Let’s start with 20 years as an example. My estimate of my annual retirement expenses is $80,000.  25X $80,000 is $2 million. This strategy assumes you could then stop working and withdraw 4% of the $2 million to “produce” a salary of $80,000 going forward (the so called “safe withdrawal rate).


So if you want to accumulate $2 million, in 20 years, how much do you need to save to get there? Let’s assume that you earn an annual rate of return of 10%.  Let’s also assume you have already banked $250,000. If you save $12,000 per year or $1,000 per month (about $33 per day) then you will have more than $2.4M in 20 years! (that’s the power of compounding!).  I hope you get the point of working backwards to see how much you should be saving per month – or even per day – $33 per day sounds a lot more reasonable than trying find an extra $12,000 per year.       .     . See below a link to 401k retirement calculator whereby you can choose the assumptions for your dream.


Net worth (total assets less total liabilities) is really the best measure of how you are doing financially; because it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep! I encourage everyone to calculate your net worth, at least once a year, write it down and see if you are achieving progress toward your goal of financial freedom. Some benchmarks (rule of thumb estimates), to see if you are on track (to retire at 65):


1X salary at age 35

2X salary at age 40

4X salary at age 50

5X salary at age 55

8X salary at age 65


If you need some help getting to your monthly savings goal, start by examining the big 3 expenses in your budget: housing, transportation, and food. I realize most of you have other expenses, but these 3 are usually between 60 and 70% of your expenses and are probably the most likely to be impacted (changed) by your personal choices:

  1. You could downsize and reduce your housing expense


  1. You could buy a less expensive used car (preferable with cash) and reduce your transportation expense


  1. You could bring your lunch to work and reduce going out to eat to reduce your food expense.


See “my expenses are too high” (link below) for other ideas to reduce your monthly expenses


Also see my post (link below) about getting a raise because frugality will only take you so far; sometimes you need more income.


You might also consider a side gig/hustle – I know it’s not exciting, but you could deliver pizzas on weekends to help earn some extra money.  Getting ahead isn’t easy; but as Dave Ramsey says, live like no one else now, so later, you can live (and give) like no one else!

I also strongly recommend you read “retire inspired” by Chris Hogan. This book is a little different, it also includes a free analysis of your R:IQ – his term for the financial number you will need to retire or be financially independent. “retire inspired, it’s not an age, it’s a financial number”.

Maybe we should stop using the word retire, or at least redefine it. Retirement shouldn’t be defined by your age. If you work hard, you could be financially independent in 20 years, and choose to keep working. That’s freedom. Keep working, at a job you love, because you want to, not because you have to!

Top 10 financial blunders

Don’t pay the stupid tax!

Mistakes, we all make ’em. But what are the top 10 financial blunders? I think I have made 8 of these mistakes (see below).  Doh! I was being stupid in a no stupid zone. Consider your own personal financial journey.  Have you made any of these mistakes?  The crazy thing is, you can recover from your financial mistakes. Turn over a new leaf, turn those bad habits into good habits; how? one decision at a time and day-by-day. Wealth is built little-by-little (Proverbs 13:11); get your spending under control, get a part-time job and pay-off that stupid tax.

Learn from your mistakes; better yet, learn from others’ mistakes and don’t make the blunder in the first place.  I believe Dave Ramsay estimates that personal finance is 80% discipline and 20% knowledge. Sounds about right to me. I can’t help you with the discipline part – that’s up to you! Choose each day to live for the future (stay on budget). Delay gratification.  Save up for purchases.  Take a tip from millionaires and sleep on a purchase before you pull the trigger, especially a major purchase.   A 24-hour delay can make the difference between a good decision and a nightmare purchase that could haunt you for years. Talk to a close friend – who is good with money – don’t talk to your broke cousin who can’t hold down a job. Everyone should be tracking their expenses monthly and telling their money where to go and what to do.


Not saving enough/investing too little in my retirement

I will do a detailed post on this one, but for starters, I recommend saving 15% of your salary for retirement (including any company match). 15% assumes you start fairly early (in your 20s) and relies on the power of compounding and a diversified portfolio, invested mostly in stocks (index funds or mutual funds).  If you have a 401k with a company match, start contributing right away! (only 1/3 of those with access to a 401k actually contribute anything, what gives?)


Accumulating credit card debt/spending outside my means/taking on more debt

Set a balanced budget. Setting a budget is simple – I didn’t say it’s easy – but it is simple. Spend less than you make. Start with the basics: food, housing, and transportation; then pay any debts you owe (e.g., student loans).  I only recommend adding luxuries (don’t confuse wants with needs) if you are debt-free (excluding your mortgage). If you really want that new couch then save up and pay for it in full – don’t put it on a credit card.

I will do a separate post about budgeting, but I’m a Christian so I also consider tithing (giving to the church) as a basic (Malachi 3:10). My point is to budget for your needs before you ever consider budgeting for your wants. I know this is challenging, but overcoming the stupid tax is a game changer; it will take hard work, discipline and probably a little time too.

you can do it beach

Harness your passion, develop your perseverance, in short – get some GRIT (see an excellent video below).


Track your expenses; manually or via – I’m old school and use an excel spreadsheet with a different tab for each month. If budgeting is a real struggle or you end up going over in certain categories (e.g., going out to eat), then go retro and use an old-fashioned envelope system (at least for those categories) – yep, cold, hard cash! Setup an accountability partner – your spouse or a close friend you can trust.


Draining my emergency fund/failing to budget properly

Draining your emergency fund is actually not a problem, if it is truly an emergency. Examples of emergencies include: car repair, house repair, and unplanned medical expenses, etc.  Examples of expenses that are not emergencies: a smartphone, a vacation, the latest Xbox, etc.  If you do drain your emergency fund, make sure to put at least $1,000 back – as soon as you can!  I recommend 3 – 6 months living expenses after you are debt-free.


Taking out a 401k loan

This is technically your money but you end up getting taxed twice because you are repaying a 401k loan with after tax money – you will get taxed again when you withdraw in retirement.   You could also end up with tax penalties if you change jobs before you pay it back.  Plus, you are un-plugging that money from being invested and short-changing the power of compounding.  Unless they are on the verge of repossessing your house, I don’t recommend it.


Top 10 financial blunders 2016 (per the Principal Financial Group Annual Financial Well Being Index 2016)

1)            not saving enough


2)            accumulating credit card debt


3)            spending outside my means


4)            taking on more debt


5)            investing too little in my retirement


6)            not budgeting properly


7)            draining my emergency fund


8)            failing to invest


9)            investing at the wrong time


10)            taking out a 401k loan


Top 5 money management priorities

dream big

Your financial dream; this is the fun part, go ahead and dream, but make sure you dream BIG! Let your imagination go. What do you want your financial future to look like? Does it involve debt? Harassing calls from collectors? Living paycheck-to-paycheck? (that’s not a dream, that’s a nightmare)


According to the survey below, paying off debt is the number 1 financial priority. I certainly agree with that priority, but I would ask a basic question, WHY? I would say because most people want financial stability and the ability to build wealth. The best way to have financial stability and the ability to build wealth is to be debt-free!


To have the motivation to achieve your dream, you need to establish why you have the specific dream you have; otherwise, you might give up when times get tough, and they will get tough; the Bible says “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33);


“You hungry for failure? Maybe a side of unemployment? ‘Cause that’s what’s for lunch. ” Wolf from the movie Hoodwinked (Patrick Warburton)


Maybe you want to be debt-free in order to save up for that dream home. Maybe you want to be generous (help others) in retirement. Maybe you want the peace of mind that comes from being debt-free, true financial peace; imagine what that might be like (no debt payments to anyone!), give it a minute to soak in; paint the picture, burn that image into your frontal cortex.


Almost regardless of your specific dream, being debt-free should be job one because your ultimate goal will be that much easier to achieve without the burden and stress of debt. The Bible says the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7); that doesn’t sound good.   .     .


I believe the very first step (#5 in the survey below) in any successful financial process should be to establish an emergency fund (at least $1,000), because an unexpected expense could derail that wonderful dream (owning your dream home, with a leaking roof and no money to repair it? Sounds more like a nightmare to me.)  I want it to be more than a dream though, (dreams only come true in the movies); I want it to be a goal – a goal with steps, milestones and most importantly, a plan! (aka a budget).


“A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day. And your mother and I think we have a fool with no plan.” Father of T. Boone Pickens. I have read his biography “the first billion is the toughest” – I highly recommend.


Top 5 money management priorities (per the Principal Financial Group Annual Financial Well Being Index 2016)


1)            paying down debt


2)            saving for retirement


3)            creating/maintaining a budget


4)            saving for a major purchase


5)            building a savings account for emergencies


Top 10 Budget Busters

Do you like to eat? I do; I don’t miss many meals – which is why I gained 14 pounds over this past year and why my doctor gave me a hard time during a recent check-up; I confess this is an area of weakness – especially going out to eat – breakfast, lunch, weekends, sometimes even late (run for the border anyone?). I found this list (see below) of top budget busters this past week (probably yahoo finance) and thought I would pass along. I confess the top 2 are definitely categories I should work on; shoulda, coulda, woulda.     .     .




I spend about $12 per person, per day (3 of us), definitely room for improvement. We spend about $1,100 per month on food/groceries/eating out. Per the USDA (see link below), we should be able to eat (healthy) for less than $1,010; really?  homer


Click to access CostofFoodMay2017_0.pdf


Another rule of thumb is to limit food expenses to no more than 10% of your total expenses. For example, if your take home pay is $5,000 per month then limit your food/groceries expense to $500 per month (including alcohol). Couple more stats I found online (BLS national average);  60% of food expense is spent on food prepared at home vs. 40% spent at restaurants (we are close to 50/50).  An estimate of eating out cost per person per meal is $12.75 vs. eating at home at $2 per person per meal (value penguin inc.). Some of these stats are a little dated but regardless; I believe its safe to say its cheaper to eat at home vs. a restaurant.


Top Budget Busters (per the Principal Group Annual Financial Well Being Index 2016)


1)            dining out


2)            food/groceries


3)            entertainment


4)            other consumer goods


5)            travel


6)            housing/home improvements


7)            clothing/apparel/shoes


8)            gas


9)            coffee


10)            other