Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2007 Grocery spending up 6%

The annual rite of passage of importing my final 2007 credit card data into Microsoft Money is now complete, and it came as no surprise that grocery spending continues to be our second largest annual expense after our mortgage payment. I've worked for years to reduce this number via my grocery shopping strategy, but price increases and limited deal availability have contributed to my 2007 cost increases.

After seeing that I was facing a surprising 14% increase in grocery prices through August 2007, I challenged myself to try to reduce that number with strategies like more aggressively purchasing coupons on ebay, making more frequent stops at Walmart for bread and dairy items, participating in more store and manufacturer promotions and rebates, and cutting back a bit on discretionary purchases (bummer, less steak). Even with my increased efforts, the final tally for my 2007 grocery spending still increased by 6% over the previous year.

Now, despite my grocery spending increasing by only 6% in 2007, continuing price increases like the recent 16% bump in the cost of Organic milk at my local Walmart combined with fewer good deals and coupons have really depleted my stockpile of non-perishable goods. The biggest impact for us was having less food on hand to donate for Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives, although we do supplement that with a cash donation to a local food share program. I'm trying to be more proactive this year and have already accumulated a decent supply of Ragu pasta sauce and Peter Pan peanut butter for a great price that is earmarked for the next food drive.

It should be interesting to see how the slowing economy, decreasing corporate profits, high fuel costs, and continuing inflation will impact the cost of groceries in 2008. Hopefully I'll continue to be able to keep our costs under control and the donation pipeline to the local food pantry flowing.


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