Managing a household food budget

How to best manage a household budget. I’m the one with the CC and she has only the debit card. Her problem is eating out - fast food & friends which leaves very little to handle the mortgage or the home repairs thus I struggle not to blame her for the debt

We make $100k a year. But we spend $25-28k a year on FOOD. OUR mortgage is only $16,968.

Our annual home repairs has almost equaled our mortgage; we had deferred maintenance to take care of now - roof, windows, siding, insulation, drywall, and HVAC as well as electrical code violations

Even when I lived alone, I felt my $350/mo total food bill was insane - would be $500 now - too much TJs

Like all problems, unless you do something, it will get worse.

Sorry, I have no idea what that “something” is.

1 Like

It doesn’t sound to me like you are on the same page financially. Very tough to implement a budget on your own…

Perhaps going to a cash allowance for food ?

The first 3 suggestions of this article are approaches for couples with different money mindsets. You may have tried similar approaches. Another option is to get input from a couple’s financial counselor or financial therapist.

Why not suggest to your wife that you both take up cooking as a hobby?

Preparing food from scratch is healthier, cheaper, better tasting and better for the environment. :avocado: :shallow_pan_of_food: :olive:

Great advice. I should take a cooking class. We shouldn’t take a cooking class as it wouldn’t go well. If I do most of the cooking and more importantly pots & pans, she would eat out a lot less but the bigger problem would be realizing that our lifestyle should not match her friends, one being an advanced practice nurse and the other an O-5 in the military.

True, we have $57 in credit card debt, about to be 70 with some major home repairs. We have $90-$110 in home equity and $125 in retirement. We have $31 in student loans in her name. She wants to sign up for a $40 car - a Honda Pilot. I was thinking like Rav 4

The good part is my disposable income is $1,500/mo but it all goes to debt repayment and then some

She is against bankruptcy and thinks I created the mess because I spend $1,200/mo in groceries and only make $74k a year. She makes $30k and we get $545/mo in child support. We had only $8,000 in medical expenses, $10k in auto, $30k in home, and $13k in adoption and $5k for puppy including my 10 yr bonus being spent on an ER visit. This is hard because it was my wife and kid who wanted the puppy

My wife was a dedicated pet lover. Not sure she would pick her dogs over me, but I did not want to test that.

Agreed. By the way, I’m looking at having to replace the siding and windows.

In my house if she had to choose between me and the cats I would be sleeping under a bridge some where.


That’s exactly why I never wanted to test her.

This is only a partial answer but I would start by buying and installing Quicken.

It’s a great tool in keeping up with your budget.

You need to get on the same page, and you need to plan a budget together. The total income is family income, not yours and hers separately. Chances are your communications on this with each other are not being understood in the way intended.
Even the word and concept of a budget meant entirely different things to my husband and me.

If ever there was a case for Dave Ramsey, this is it.

I wonder if any of your ‘food’ purchases include things like laundry soap you bought at the grocery store? And don’t you have 3 kids? That $545 a month would feed 1 but not 3.

Cooking at home is a good idea, and you can watch youtube videos free instead of take classes. If you put your mind to it, you could learn, say, 10 different meals and perfect those so cooking them is time efficient. Eat more plants and the pots & pans will be easier to wash. :slight_smile: You (both of you) can reduce your food expenses, but not get them down to $0.

You can delay home repairs…stretch them out, even though you’d like to have it all done now.

I feel for you on the dog issue. I’m amazed at how much vet bills are, and how much people spend on their pets. It’s not just dog food, although that’s what most people are thinking when they commit to owning one.

Is your wife a little too concerned about her/your image relative to her friends’? Maybe she will care less as she gets older?

You have a lot going on with the home repairs, CC debt, student loans, cars, kids and dog. It might just be like that for a while.

My husband and I spent about $8200 on groceries and $3300 at restaurants in 2023. About half of the eating out is during travel. Both numbers include our daughter & boyfriend eating with us for about 10 days in the year. I could get those numbers down if I ate less, and I should!

Ours is that in five months for one child - family of 3

Thanks for everyone’s comments.

So here is my summary of your posts:

  • $100k in annual income
  • $57k in credit card debt (soon to be $70k)
  • $31k in student loans

Given all of this…you want to spend $40k on a car. So my gentle response is that you are out of your mind !!! You have way too much debt to be buying a $40k car. Someone has got to be the adult in the room otherwise bankruptcy is in your near future. I cannot imagine how much interest you are paying on that CC debt. You are most likely in a death spiral…


Is that really “disposable income”?

SP, Clark has a good idea you can try

Your debt-to-income ratio is not sustainable. The only viable solution may well be getting input from a bankruptcy lawyer. Every person who files for bankruptcy must obtain credit counseling.
Another option might be pie in the sky but both of you could be seen at a, a national non-profit credit counselling organization, that could assess your situation. I believe that the cost is a one-time $50 range fee. The organization has negotiated lower interest rates with major credit card companies. But a solution might also need for your wife to be at some point eligible for a student loan forgiveness program AND as a couple you would have to stop acquiring new debt.
If nothing else maybe after getting input from a credit counselor, your wife will have better understanding of your difficult financial situation and your limited options.

1 Like

Agreed. Thanks so much. Our joint DTI is 39%

Should I look into a 5 year home equity loan or a DMP?

Should I consider 0% BT offers? At 3% fee? At 5%?

Should I avoid a 401k loan? Does it ever make sense?

I’d recommend looking at your financial position in terms of net worth also. Look at your total assets minus total obligations, not just monthly cash flow. Wealth is not cash flow, wealth is total net assets. Cash flow is an indicator of lifestyle.