Due to a series of unfortunate events, my dad is filing for bankruptcy, and when you file for bankruptcy in Washington state, you have to take an online course that teaches you a little about budgeting, getting out of debt, saving. How to avoid bankruptcy in the future. One of the unfortunate events in the series is that my dad had a stroke a couple years ago, so he needed a little help with his course. This means that I now know about budgeting for bankruptcy filers.
The most interesting thing I learned is that they suggest you budget 16% of your expenses for food. That’s super low. If we were budgeting 16% of our $28,600 goal for the year, we’d only spend $381 per month on food. That is achievable. We’ve achieved it. In January we only spent $375 on food. So it can be done. But it still seems crazy low, doesn’t it? The USDA thinks that a family of four, following a “thrifty” budget spends $584 per month. The poverty line is set at three times the cost of food. If 33% of our expenses went toward food, we’d be spending $794 per month on food. That’s super high, and it wouldn’t leave enough money for other important things.
My friends over at LivinLightly set their grocery budget at $300. And they’re a family of four. They’re pretty inspiring.
I see groceries as the main expense in the budget that isn’t fixed. Sure, housing costs more, but there’s less wiggle room with that month to month. There seems to be a pretty big disconnect among what government agencies think we should spend on food and what we actually spend on food. Maybe if we could all agree on that we’d be a little closer to solving hunger problems here. For now, we’re sticking with our $500/month budget, hoping to continue to come in closer to $400, and striving to some day meet that $300 mark that our friends at LivinLightly have achieved.