My Top 5 Budget Busters

Mrs. Micah sent out a general tag for the top 5 budget busters meme and I’m taking up the challenge. I can actually boil them down to two things: food and my husband. Sometimes the two are combined. We don’t have a formal budget, but we have an idea of what we should be spending. Unfortunately, we often exceed that in specific areas.

Food Budget Busters

Food, specifically groceries, are probably our biggest budget buster. Our food costs are around $500 a month, which is high for a family of two, but there are three reasons for this:

We eat well. A typical dinner is chicken marsala with roasted red potatoes and a walnut gorgonzola salad. Although I shop wisely, buying good, fresh ingredients does cost more than a coupon-bought TV dinner.

Food costs are going up. The price of eggs has gone up 50 cents a dozen this year. Corn tortillas are up 60 cents. That’s a pretty substantial increase when you add it up over a year.

Food intolerances. Thanks to my food intolerances, our food costs are at least 30% higher, probably closer to 50%. My flour blend alone costs 5 times more than white flour (and therefore used sparingly.) A pound of pasta costs 3 times more (and is also used sparingly). They also make it difficult to change our diet to cheaper foods. Eating meatless meals won’t really save us any money. Even if we wanted to buy all our food with coupons, I can’t eat most packaged food.

Spousal Budget Busters

My other budget busters are, collectively, my husband. He feels that because we make a certain amount of money and have certain jobs we should be able to live a certain way. He’s also not quite as panicked by our debt. Since we see these two things so differently, we go over budget in the following areas:

Work Lunch: He eats out with co-workers a couple of times a week. They nearly always split the check, which means he nearly always overpays. Then there are the times when they change plans on the way to the restaurant and he finds himself in a steak house paying $40 for lunch, and then hitting happy hour later for another $20. That’s 2/3s of my grocery budget for the week!

Weekend Lunch: He still likes to eat junk food. Recently he’s gotten into the habit of either going out to run errands on Saturday and then stopping at McDonald’s, or waiting too long to eat and then running out to get a whole pizza. I buy him food he likes, but he wants to “treat” himself or doesn’t feel like waiting. The upshot is that he spends another $5-10 for weekend lunch.

Work Clothes: My husband is in one of the traditional professions, which means he wears suits five days a week. Cheap suits wear out, good suits are expensive. Both require regular dry cleaning. All those costs add up and there’s simply no avoiding them.

Charity Obligations: In addition, my husband has to attend various charity events for work. He nearly always gets suckered into making a donation. While I don’t begrudge him helping a good cause, it can still be a budget buster, especially since we don’t itemize and therefore can’t write off those donations. He also volunteers with some organizations that frequently run short on cash, and we often pony up the dough until they can pay us back.

I’m trying to find ways to cut the grocery budget, but the other budget busters are out of my control. Short of being a nag, it’s going to take a long time to correct my spousal budget busters.

What are your budget busters? Tell me in the comments. If you blog, continue the meme there! Like Mrs. Micah, I won’t tag anyone because I don’t know who enjoys doing these.

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