Friday, February 8, 2008

Eating's Overrated

Months ago I did a posting on the high cost of living in Klal, particularly food items. A lot of that information is relevant here.

The posting was discussing a family with 4 small children. I went back to the government figures and they tell me that two adults would equal half the expenses of that family of 6. If $17,000 to $22,500 is the figure for the family, then $8500 to $11,000 is the figure for the couple alone. And as the article states, this assumes eating out only one time a month. In class last night I questioned a handful of my married students and asked, on average, how many times a month they ate out. Interestingly they asked if I meant with their wives or by themselves. The working and the learning boys eat most lunch meals out or buy them at take-out food stores. They mentioned that they probably eat out with their wives about once a week, although a few were quick to add that that may be at a pizza shop. I'll be way conservative here and say that these eating patterns would only add another $200 a month or $2500 a year to the total, bringing us to $11,00 to $13,500 a year for food.

The article also notes this: Also not included are the numerous items that get purchased in grocery stores and supermarkets that are non-food items: paper goods, plastic bags, garbage bags, laundry detergent, cleaners, over the counter medications, foil pans etc. Again, let me be really conservative and also assume very smart shopping and add in only another $100 per month for these expenses. That brings our "food" total to $12,200 to $14, 700 a year.

There is also this: the posting's numbers on the low end were promulgated based on the woman's (man's) being both a savvy shopper and a good cook. That is not something that is a guaranteed thing today. I cannot remember the last time that a parent told me of their daughter "She is a terrific cook and a wonderful balabusta." Making brownies that are to die for does not qualify you for "balabusta" status. Also, even if a girl has helped out her mother by doing shopping for the family, she is shopping on her mother's budget, not one tailored to her own available funds.

Okay, our grand total up to now: a bare-bones apartment, without household goods, cars and food are going to run you $58,200. After tax income. Assuming only one man and one woman and no kids. Add $3600 per year for each child. Still feeling all chipper about how much it costs to live a frum life? And there is still more, lots more, that needs to be paid for.

To be continued


Anonymous said...

Showed my dad your figures because I really thought you were figuring way too high. He looked at them and said that they are only high if a young married couple spends a lot of time eating by the parents and doesn't have any company at all. Otherwise he says that the numbers can be even higher. I guess he would know because my parents paid these bills for one of my sisters whose husband learned when they first got married and didn't live near us.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I learned the hard way about the money figures you are showing. We promissed support for five years and split that with the in laws. We made it for only 2 years because we couldn't afford what it really cost to keep up another family and ours too. Either my husband or me was going to have to get a second job and that was ridiculous. We let our son in law and daughter get the jobs instead. Much saner way of doing things. Let's me be a parent again instead of a money policeman.

Anonymous said...

Your high figure of $14,700 breaks down to $141 per person per week. Figure 14 to 21 meals per week plus snacks. Just looking at food without figuring in the cleaning stuff and other products that you mentioned and the figure seems like it is too low, not too high. Can't see how you could have any company with this figure or eat out.

Anonymous said...

So what's supposed to be the answer? Eat less? Don't eat at all? Never have company? Never eat out or buy ready made? Mooch meals off others? A person has to eat and you have to buy food. Whatever it costs it costs.

ProfK said...

To answer anonymous:
The answer is to shop smartly and to recognize that food expenses have to come before luxury expenditures. You have to eat before you have to buy yet another electronic doodad. If you want restaurants and takeout food and company, what are you willing to give up to get these things?

Anonymous said...

Maybe if there was a new reality tv show on "Who is the Better Shopper" the idea of being a smart shopper might catch on. It's like the word cheaper is a dirty word.

Orthonomics said...

I know exactly (to the penny) what we spent on food (which includes non-perishables like diapers and shampoo), as well as eating out last year: Just under $5000 and $400 respectively. We spent not a whole lot less pre-children, pre-diapers. A lot can be learned to shave the food budget, but it might require a fulltime homemaker.