Grocery Poll 2: How Much Do You Spend On Groceries Per Month?

Long time readers of My Two Dollars may remember that I asked this very question back in 2007 and got some great responses. At the time, I was spending about $460 a month on groceries for my wife and I, which some people thought was low and some thought was high. It’s amazing how different perspectives and different locales change the equation so much! Since I am single and have been living in a different place for a month, I tracked my grocery spending again – and thus wanted to share it with you guys and ask you for your figures as well. First, some of my info:

Last time I did this poll, I was doing most of our shopping at Trader Joes and the Farmers Market. Now, living in Denver in the winter, I do 90% of my shopping at Whole Foods with the other 10% done at the “regular” grocery store.

I am now single, so I buy a lot less “stuff” for the house.

I still eat only organic vegetables and fruit, and meat about once a week. No milk, but lots of yogurt and cheese. And only a tiny amount of crap/processed food.

Because of the lack of Trader Joes, groceries cost more than they did in California – but less than they did in New Mexico.

Still, all that being said, I did OK – I spent about $200-$225 on groceries during my first month here. That’s a little less than half the dollar amount I was spending per month for two of us in 2007. So, this leads me to you guys…how much are you spending on groceries per month? Where do you live? Where do you shop? Has the recession changed your shopping habits?


Updated List Of 0% Interest Balance Transfer Credit Cards.

With the holidays coming up, some of you may carry debt into the new year – but there is no need to pay the credit card companies any interest. If you can transfer your balances to a 0% interest card, at least it will buy you some time to make those payments and not pay a fortune in interest on your gifts! Here are a few updated cards offering 0% Balance Transfer offers…


Teachers – Don’t Forget Your $250 Tax Deduction.

Since I was married to a teacher, I know about this tax deduction – do you or any of your teacher friends? If you are an educator, remember to keep any receipts for unreimbursed classroom supplies so that you have a record of them. There is a line item deduction on your tax form for $250 for these costs, and while you don’t have to submit your receipts to get the deduction it’s always a good idea to have them around just in case. I just read recently that some 66% of teachers use their own money for classroom supplies and/or food for their students, so while this $250 is nice it doesn’t seem like nearly enough. But it is what you have for now, so remember to take it!


How To Make Sure Your Finances Are In Order For 2010.

Every January, thousands of Americans open their credit card statements to see the damages done over the holiday shopping season. (Not me – I no longer go crazy at Christmas like I used to.) According to a November 16th Gallup poll, Americans plan to spend an average of $638 on gifts this holiday season and the average consumer with a credit card has $7,573 worth of credit card debt. Without the right resources, trying to pay down the debt in 2010 may feel like a hopeless cause. More and more companies, however, are offering free online tools and resources to help you become financially fit and savvy. Below are four easy steps people can follow to make sure their finances are in tip top shape for the New Year.

Step 1: In order to get a gauge on your financial health, you need to find out what your credit score is. You can track your score for free using a site like CreditKarma.com, which can help you figure out how their debt is affecting their credit score. This can help a consumer determine what debts or credit cards need to be paid off first.

Step 2: Next, take a look at what you owe and what you have by taking a look at your bank accounts. Sites like Mint.com and Wesabe.com allow consumers to aggregate all of their bank accounts in one place, monitor expenses and set budgets for the upcoming year.

Step 3: Start thinking about next year – decide on savings goals and use a goal savings site such as SmartyPig.com. The site helps you define your savings goals and recommends how much money you need to set aside. Smarty Pig will hold you accountable by teaming you up with others and making your goals public.

Step 4: Shop smarter by using Milo.com, a site which makes it easy for shoppers to research the best products, find the right prices and check where products are available near them. Another site, Billeo.com also helps users shop smarter by taking out the hassle of tracking down and remembering to include coupon codes while shopping online and auto-fills them at the checkout page.

These tools should help you reduce your debt and get your financial life on the right track for the New Year.

Article courtesy of CreditKarma.com


Why Do We Even Carry Cash Anymore? – Debit Cards=The Future Of Finance.

While driving through the drive-thru at a fast food joint this week, a thought occurred to me. As I handed over dollar bills to pay for my cheeseburger, I started wondering, “Why do I even carry cash anymore?” Although this may sound like a bizarre question to be asking myself, there is some truth in it. Today’s society is moving more and more towards simplicity, and even though cash is simple, it’s not the simplest form of payment out there anymore. Instead, society is moving towards debit cards, also known as check cards. The reason why is pretty simple, because there are a lot of benefits to carrying a debit card:

1) All you have to carry is a single card – Unlike cash where you have to go to ATM’s or banks every once in a while to refill on cash, and unlike credit cards where you have to be approved for a specific limit and then repay the money at a later date anyways, debit cards allow you to pay right then and there and only carry one card to and from places.

2) Online banking has made money management simple – With easy access to the internet available for a large percentage of the population, and debit transactions being processed nearly everyday by each business, people can check how much money they have available easily. Unless you’re a person who carries only cash, chances are you have a savings or checking account in addition to the cash, and thus, you have to keep track of multiple sources of finances to determine how much money you have.

3) Most places accept debit cards – Although some places do not accept specific types of credit cards or checks from out of state, nearly every place nowadays will accept debit cards. If you reach your limit with a credit card, you get an error and have to pay in a different way. With a debit card instead, if you overdraw, the penalty comes to you from your bank after-the-fact, creating even more simplicity. Monthly bills often offer a payment plan that withdraws automatically from your checking account, taking away the need for checks. Even most bars nowadays accept debit cards, meaning you can create a tab and not have to worry about carrying enough cash on a specific night.

4) Theft is less of a concern – If you are robbed (which hopefully will never happen), and you’re carrying cash, it’s typically gone for good. However, if you are robbed and carrying debit/credit cards, all you have to do is call your bank/credit card and cancel those cards, telling the authorities that it was stolen. Although identity theft is more prevalent when you’re carrying things other than cash, if you act quickly after realizing your cards are gone, this too can be limited or avoided.

These are just a few of the positives to carrying debit cards over cash, which helps to explain why so many people in today’s society, especially younger generations, are tending to carry an ID and a debit card in their wallet rather than checks or cash.

Post by Tom L Michaels, who is the owner and creator of HeardAtTheOffice.com. Have you ever heard something out of context in the office that made you burst out in laughter? Made you want to tell someone what was said, even though it may be inappropriate for you to do so at work? If so, go to www.heardattheoffice.com and post those memorable quotes for others just like you to read and laugh about. Or follow on Twitter – @heardatoffice.

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