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$900 per month for food & toiletries
Old 02-20-2012, 04:15 PM   #1
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$900 per month for food & toiletries

for one person in the Washington DC area. I am budgeting for this amount in my ER budget. Does this sound reasonable? I am not taking any prescription drugs at this time but there is a separate category for that in my ER budget so this $900 is strictly for groceries, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.

I am not polling this data or anything. I am just asking for your opinion whether this number seems reasonable. I have frequently read the advice of tracking my expenditures to know what it is pre ER for each category unfortunately I am eating and traveling on business too frequently right now while I am still working so I have no realistic idea of what it would cost me to feed myself and buying soap and shampoo for myself.

Please share your thoughts and opinion. Thank you.

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Old 02-20-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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Do you grocery shop and cook at home or eat out a lot?
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:26 PM   #3
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How much is toilet paper in the DC area?
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:01 PM   #4
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Do you grocery shop and cook at home or eat out a lot?
+1.

Whether you grocery shop and cook at home or eat out a lot is a big difference maker.

The amount per month varies with each person.

That said, bunching a bunch of TV dinners from the grocery store and microwaving them doesn't really count too as that is still expensive. But if you cook, say a meatloaf, and save the portions into several meals, that'll cut the grocery cost down a lot.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:03 PM   #5
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Quicken says my grocery bill for 2011 was ~$2400, so $900/month sounds a little high, even for the DC area.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:06 PM   #6
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$30 a day is seated restaurant meals with waiters every day for me. Sounds reasonable. Save $10 though for a month's worth of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and toilet paper. Even if you have maids, you will need more money for cleaning supplies, laundry detergent (forget about using dryer sheets, they are too expensive), and dishwasher detergent.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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It sounds high to me, too. We spend about $5000 at grocery stores for the two of us. Throw in another $1000 for toiletries and paper goods I buy at non-groceries and that's about $500 per month. I cook many meals but we also splurge on lots of prepared foods. We also live on the East Coast so our costs are likely similiar.

However, if you added in all the wine / beer we buy plus dinners out, we're closer to $1000 per month for two. (That's our big splurge I suppose)
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:57 PM   #8
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Ms G. and I averaged $800 a month for the last 4 years. We eat 99% meals at home and eat 70% organic foods. She is thin, I could stand to lose a few pounds.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:12 PM   #9
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Seems high to me but there is a lot of variation. Most of my meals are prepared at home, and I spend under $400 a month for groceries, alcoholic bevs, toiletries, and misc. household (cleaners, detergent, soaps, paper towels, etc) combined. I have never tracked groceries separately but my guess is around $300 a month.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:50 PM   #10
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Yeah....it sounds high.

For two people, we spend an average of $450 a month for food, toiletries, and cleaning products. We average $65 a month eating out. Booze is under a different category as well...an average of $90 a month.

If you do budget $900 for retirement, I think that would fine. If you find you don't spend that much, you can add the excess to another category.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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Seems high. We are currently a family of 4 (two teenagers at home) and food and toiletries averages about $1100 per month for all 4 of us. Eating out is about $250 a month, FWIW, so yours may vary depending on how often you eat out.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:36 PM   #12
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My monthly grocery and toiletries budget (one person) is no where near $900. For me, about $200 a month is plenty.

However, I don't count dining out (which I don't do too often) as a grocery category. I'd count that in my entertainment category.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:48 PM   #13
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We budget $850 a month for groceries. Besides food that includes paper products for the kitchen and bathrooms, cat food (includes canned tuna and mackerel because she's 17 years old) and litter, cleaning supplies, toiletries, OTC pharmacy items and vitamins. I cook at home 95% of the time and rarely buy prepared foods.

This sounds like a lot for 2 adults plus 1 adult son who lives here but isn't always eating at home. If I cut back too much on the Groceries budget we start to feel like poor people and we're not poor, we're just living with a plan.

I look for sales and stock up on non-perishables. But we like a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, good quality deli meat and fish. I do a big shopping once a month and then restock the fresh items weekly.

I used to include birdseed and peanuts and suet for the bird feeders in the "grocery" budget but that stuff is expensive! So we moved those items to the "Other" budget column that includes odds and ends and miscellaneous expenses (gifts, oil change, home maintenance, stamps, etc.) that are not "groceries". We budget $300/month for "Other" so there's a big fudge factor for whatever we end up needing to use that for.

$900 sounds like a lot for 1 person. Start with that as your ballpark figure when you retire. Track your spending for 2 or 3 months and see what you really spend. You may find that you enjoy cooking from scratch and eating leftovers. Or you may hate cooking and find that you want the convenience of a pre-made meal.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:37 PM   #14
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Dear All!

I am ecstatic to read comments from everyone that $900 seems high for one person for groceries and toiletries. I love to cook and I do cook from scratch using quality ingredients. When at home, I cook over 95% of my meals and pack my lunches for work when I am in town. I have not yet been home for a full month or two in order to track my expenses for these categories. I have tracked everything else, i.e., household utils, property taxes, entertainment, etc.

I am really happy to know that if I budget $900 but do not eat out frequently then I should still be OK in years when the Market is doing poorly and will not have to resort to eating cat food.

Thank you so much for your replies. I still hope to hear from more Forum members. It is so interesting to learn of amounts that members on this Forum spend on various budget categories. I am looking forward to ER and over the next 3 years I will really monitor my expenses in order to feel less anxiety when I am ready to take the leap.

Thank you ALL!
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:41 PM   #15
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Seems high. We are currently a family of 4 (two teenagers at home) and food and toiletries averages about $1100 per month for all 4 of us. Eating out is about $250 a month, FWIW, so yours may vary depending on how often you eat out.
Hello Katsmeow, Thanks for your reply. May I ask if the $250 was included in the $1100?
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:54 PM   #16
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I am a single man, and I cook almost all meals at home from scratch. When I do go out I file it under entertainment rather than groceries. I used to do fast food under groceries, but I stopped abusing my body with fast food, so my $463 is all food at home. In 2011 I spent $463 on groceries. This does not include anything I buy at drugstores like tooth stuff, or paper products. Single men are not heavy users of paper products anyway.

My monthly average would jump fast if I ate as much fish as I would like, or bought mostly organic instead of some organic as I do now. Also, I shop sales but do not go to Costco or Sam's as I have a small apt and couldn't store it. Anyway, I didn't retire to drive out to a Costco. I have a woman friend who lives alone and spends at least half again what I do, because she always wants what she likes best, not what she likes best at a price.

But in any case, as many others have said, you should be fine with your budgeted $900/month.

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Old 02-20-2012, 09:58 PM   #17
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I am a single man, and I cook almost all meals at home from scratch. In 2011 I spent $463 on groceries.
I sure hope that's a monthly figure...
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:00 PM   #18
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I sure hope that's a monthly figure...
No, I only ate what I could get from the dumpster, and grubs from the forest floor...
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:04 PM   #19
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No, I only ate what I could get from the dumpster, and grubs from the forest floor...
I thought maybe you'd been eating the leftover salsa after those dances.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:57 PM   #20
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Hello Katsmeow, Thanks for your reply. May I ask if the $250 was included in the $1100?
Yes it is. The $1100 includes sundries such as toilet paper, paper towels and things like batteries that we buy at the grocery store. It does not include medical items or personal care items such as shampoo or makeup (but those are minimal costs).
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