When we were discussing whether or not to take up the Food Stamp Challenge, the most important consideration was how close our current spending is to the Challenge level, $367. If we spend way more, then the Challenge would be pretty painful, and we would have to really prepare for it. If we spend just a little more, then we could start the same day I proposed the Challenge.
To find out our current spending, I downloaded our credit card transactions from October 2012 to February 2013. I categorized the transactions as ‘food at home’ (groceries), ‘food away from home’ (restaurants, bakeries, etc) and ‘nonfood’. Below I chart the monthly totals for the food categories. The dotted line represents the Challenge level of $367.
What I get from this chart is that
- Our food at home spending is not that far away from the Challenge level. In fact, in January, our food at home spending was actually below the Challenge level.
- Our food spending is quite variable, ranging from a low of $446.29 (January) to a high of $701.65 (October). I’m not sure what’s driving that variability: I think we made a trip to Philly in October (Philly has a fantastic food scene), but we can’t figure out January.
- We can’t afford to eat out during the Challenge.
So based on our past history, which shows that we’re capable of cheap eating, we decided to take up the Challenge within an hour of my proposing it. We were in a hurry because we wanted to go grocery shopping, and we were going to buy rice. Because rice is our staple, bought infrequently and in bulk, we wanted to make sure the rice expenditure went into the Challenge. Our next post will be on our very first Challenge grocery trip!