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 Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly 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."

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