Thursday, October 18, 2018

Monthly Food Expenditure

I re-balanced my portfolio today, so I'm in a bit of a finance mood. I decided I would chart my monthly food expenditure over the years to see if I could spot any trends. I started tracking my finances in 2001 or thereabouts, but I can't seem to find the first few years of data, so the below chart shows my average monthly food expenditure from 2005 to 2017, and also for the Jan/18 to Jul/18 period. A couple of key dates:

Q4 2006: We took occupancy of our condo, so we practiced a lot of "fiscal restraint" as we wanted to pay off the condo as quickly as we could.
Q4 2011: We paid off the condo in 5 years and became debt-free. My monthly food expenditures started tracking upward steadily after that.

Note: the below charts represents my monthly expenditure only, i.e., my half of the grocery bill, my half of meals at restaurants with hubby, and my personal expenses when I go out for food with friends. It doesn't take a statistician to see that the trendline was going up.

At the height of my extravagance, in February 2016, I spent nearly $2,000 on food in one month. By this time, I was pretty much going out to eat multiple days each week and buying takeout (or ordering in) the rest of the time. I knew I needed a pattern interrupt, so I tried the eat-at-home challenge. Here's what happened when I did the eat-at-home challenge in November 2016.

The amazing thing about the eat-at-home challenge was that the effect lingered. The reduced spending continued in subsequent months. Not so much in December, because there were celebrations to be had, but January and February 2017 were relatively low. I did the eat-at-home challenge twice in 2017: in March and in November. The November results weren't as impressive, because I started getting really into wine, partly due to work stress. We ate at home a lot more throughout 2017, but we also drank more frequently--pretty much every day towards the end of the year--and that significantly impacted our "food" cost, since I track alcohol in the same category.

The good news is, despite having spent money rather excessively in recent years, I'm actually really really good at not spending money. In fact, I've lived the majority of my life being rather frugal and conservative with money. Now that I've made the ultimate pattern interrupt of quitting my job, I can get back to being myself. It's not a new normal, it's just my plain-old normal. I'll update the below chart once my Q4 2018 results are in, but I'm pretty impressed by the drastic reduction in my average monthly food expenditure in August and September!

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