About a month ago I wrote about how I wanted to take an extra $155 that we had from both gifts as well as overage in our previous month's food budget and put it toward building a stockpile of food. The hope was and is to eventually lower our monthly grocery bill. We currently work with a $410/month grocery bill for a family of 6, and that has to cover diapers and toiletries as well as sales tax (yes, we pay sales tax on food :( ).
This past month, we went over our food budget by about $17, and we used up our entire food stockpiling budget. I had hoped to come in at just under our food budget, but a few medical circumstances this week threw our meal plan off and I bought a rotisserie chicken at the last minute at Sam's Club yesterday. While I was there, I noticed that they had 80/20 ground beef marked down to $1.99/lb, so I picked up 6 pounds of it for next month. Generally I do not like to use next month's food budget to stock up because that can become a runaway train which you never catch up to, but in this case I knew that "next month" was in 2 days, so I will take this amount off of next month's balance and work hard to stay within a lower food budget.
As for this month, I think the main reason we did not come in below our food budget was that I covered 5 weeks of groceries plus had to get a lot of toiletries like diapers and laundry detergent (I don't make my own detergent, which is for another post). I use cloth diapers for the most part during the day, but there are days where I have not stayed on top of the laundry and then I need more disposables. This is largely an organizational issue that I'm trying to get a grip on and be better at in the months to come (and hopefully, potty training will help this summer!).
We added a number of things to our food stockpile, including natural peanut butter at 99 cents/15 oz jar, flour at 99 cents/5 lb, butter at $1.99/lb, and at the last minute, ground beef! I also made a couple of trips to specialty stores in Kansas City to get some Asian ingredients at low prices like pad thai rice noodles at $1.29/lb or Trader Joe's gluten free pasta at $1.99/lb. The Asian grocery superstore there is my weakness, so unfortunately I picked up a few ingredients I have no idea on what to do with (lemongrass powder, anyone?) but for the most part, I was happy with what I got.
This is a bit of a sobering note, but I thought I would share it as well because it's a part of our journey, and nothing is ever straightforward when it comes to paying off debt. This past week I started having symptoms that indicated a possible miscarriage (that was our medical situation mentioned above) and it was confirmed in an ultrasound yesterday afternoon. We have never had to deal with any complications in previous pregnancies and while I am older, I guess I just didn't expect it. That was part of the reason I picked up a chicken at Sam's Club. But as I was there, I realized that while the deal I was getting on hamburger was good, it paled in comparison to the children I already had or the child I would have had if this pregnancy had continued.
When we first found out I was pregnant, I was a little stressed wondering how we would pay for it. Then, I figured out that we would almost have enough in our HSA to cover it, but it would pretty much wipe out our HSA and push us back on the plan I had laid out to pay off our debt by a certain time.
But, it was a baby, so that always trumps everything else - only now, there's not a baby. The debt-paying part of my brain realized our HSA would be back on track, but of course I didn't care at all now. I guess in all of this, it reminded me that while getting rid of debt and building up savings is important, there are so many other blessings in life too, and I don't want to miss out on those blessings. I want to be debt-free, but I don't want debt-free living to become an idol.
Both my husband and I held our children a little closer yesterday.