Pinched in February

I see that I posted about the results for January as far as tracking spending on groceries and sundries. Now we’re in March, so I know that February’s spending was higher, even though it needed to be at least as low. Heck, I thought I’d failed to take it far enough in January.

Grand total in February was $718.42, which came to $643.01 after removing taxable items and tax, an inexact shortcut to reducing the number to groceries-only. That compares to a net of $543.86 for January, almost exactly $100 more.

Part of the difference is in spending on meat, assuming I recorded it accurately both months. February was $100.04 to January’s $51.50. That surprises me, but there were some good sales, and I ended up with a good amount in the freezer. This is going to help me skate through the first two weeks of March, when things will be even worse than they’ve been yet this year.

I also softened up my stance on soda, which frankly hasn’t been the source of financial damage I had assumed. Still, $42.34 and $2.95 in deposits is a lot more than $26.53 and $1.75 in deposits.

Finally, an easily identifiable anomaly was my daughter’s birthday. She wanted an ice cream cake. That was $18.99 I would never have spent normally. For dinner that day she wanted crepes with strawberries and whipped cream. I bought her fresh strawberries as a treat, on sale but still $2.99, and a 3 pound bag of frozen strawberries for the crepes. That was over $5. Not knowing what we’d need, I bought 2 spray cannisters of whipped cream, store brand, something like $2.79 each. Extra eggs, too.

Just figured out that stuff that was neither taxable nor food came to almost $32 this month, versus almost $34 last month. Almost a wash. I should probably change my spreadsheet to distinguish such things easily.

My big lesson from these two months is that we buy a ridiculous amount of cereal. I believe not buying potato chips has increased it, because it changes rather than eliminates the snacks. We also buy more tortilla chips, attributable to the same reason combined with kids discovering they love nachos. For the oldest, that is an alternate meal if she doesn’t like what I’m making.

I suspect things will level out when taken in a three month chunk, but we’ll see at the end of March. By May, money should be much less tight, but I can’t see going crazy.

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