When Going Over Budget is Good

Last week I looked at my income and expenses for the first six months of 2014, comparing them to the budget I made at the beginning of the year. One category had a big surprise – groceries. Everyone knows about supermarket inflation, but upon further inspection I realized my own personal inflation was due to some “bad” (financially speaking) choices I have been making for my own “good.”

In my newly single life, I assumed I would be spending about two-thirds of my old married grocery budget. Instead, I found that I have actually spent more. My analysis showed three reasons – 1) my healthier food choices; 2) my love of cooking, especially for others; and 3) general grocery inflation.

When I go to the grocery store now, I hardly spend any time, or money, in the middle aisles. I spend it on the perimeter, where the produce is. As a result, I have managed to keep off the ten pounds I tried for several years to lose. But produce is generally more expensive, and not quite as filling, as packaged goods and carbs, so I buy more of it. It also spoils, so I buy more often.

I have always enjoyed cooking, but now I have someone new in my life for whom I especially enjoy preparing meals (lucky guy, huh?). Upon reflection, he estimated I am buying 75 percent of the groceries for our two households. And he is probably right. I nearly always send leftovers home with him, then bring groceries to his house, too.

Relatively speaking, I would guess that eating healthier, and cooking for two, have far more impact on my cash flow than general inflation has. But I have no intentions of stopping either one. I will find other areas to sacrifice first. Compared to the cash flow impact, my much-improved health and wellbeing is far more worth it.

Holly Donaldson

Holly P. Donaldson, CFP® writes and consults on the psychology of money. Her fee-only, product-free financial planning practice focuses on increasing financial self-efficacy for those seeking a financial navigator to help them make good decisions. She is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch." With a fully virtual practice in Seminole, Florida, she primarily serves clients located in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater areas. Holly will also work with clients who are a good fit located elsewhere in the United States.

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