Aug 27

I’ve been away for a bit, but still reading my fellow finance bloggers, so here’s my latest roundup of the ones that really impressed me –

Let’s start with The best mortgage term: 10 years at Preretired Nick makes a great case for what now appears to be an ultrashort term loan. You see, the 30 year loan wasn’t the mortgage of choice, not until after the Great Depression. But, let Nick share the details with you, it’s an insightful article.

At Mighty Bargain Hunter, John shared Soup to nuts: Preparing meals to save money, a discussion on how to reign in the cost of cooking. Given how food is such a large chunk of the typical budget, this is a great place to start.


Two class action suits came to my attention, one for Naked Juice, the other for Barbara’s Bakery. You don’t need any proof of purchase just yet, after all, who saves detailed store receipts, but you might in the future. We’ve used products from both companies, let’s see if they give us back a few dollars.

Barry Ritholtz shared his Favorite “Non-Boring” Business Books. I now have a number of new books to add to my reading list. Sometimes reading these books will help you avoid disastrous mistakes others have made. Better to learn from history than to repeat it.

Next, a Major life event update from Stephanie. She is a fellow Massachusetts-based blogger, and broke the news this week – She’s engaged.  I wish her well. Jane and I will soon celebrate our 19th anniversary, so despite all the divorce statistics, a marriage can last a long time. Good wishes to you, Stephanie, I’m looking forward to hearing about your big day.

We’ll wrap up the week with Len Penzo’s Why Pastry Chefs Are Financially Savvier Than The Common Man. I won’t even try to explain the connection, you’ll just have to read it for your self.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Mar 29

A Guest Post –

Need to figure out how you should budget food for a family of four? Striking a balance between financial stability and nutritional responsibility can be tough for many parents. Start by understanding your budget and shopping wisely.

The USDA has recommendations about budgeting food for a family of four. They separate their suggestions into four groups: thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal. By providing different spending plans, the USDA allows parents of every income level to predict how much they’ll spend. They give specific numbers for families with children in different age groups, 2 – 5 and 6 – 11. Here’s what the USDA recommends a family of four should spend on food, based on their spending group[1]:

 ages 2-5 6-11
Thrifty: $495.60 $570.00
Low-cost: $628.50 $736.60
Moderate-cost: $771.10 $916.30
Liberal: $954.60 $1,113.80


Use these federal guidelines to anticipate your monthly food budget. If you spend around $771 a month on food, but need to use a credit card to cover other expenses, then a lower spending plan could work better for you. Adjust how much you spend on food to free up money in other parts of your budget.

How to Budget for Food

The hardest part of cutting back on food spending is making sure that you don’t compromise on your family’s nutrition. It can be tough to afford the fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins that the experts recommend. The bottom 20% of wage earners spend 12% of their annual income on food; middle income earners spend 9% of their income on food.[2] By budgeting carefully, you can reduce the amount of money you spend at the grocery store. These tips can help adjust your spending to a level that works for your bank account and your family’s health:

1. Make weekly menus

Plan out a weekly menu. From your menu, decide what ingredients you need and make a detailed list. When you go to the grocery store, only buy items on your list.

2. Eat out less

Dining out can be expensive. A ten dollar sandwich at a restaurant costs much more than if you were to make it at home. In 2009, the average family spent around 40% of their food budget dining out.[3] If you limit the number of times your family eats at restaurants, then you’ll have more cash to use in different parts of your budget. Whether it allows you to spend more on groceries, clothing, or other necessities, it’s a good idea to dine out less frequently.

3. Spend less on protein

When families cut back their food budget, protein is often the first thing to go since meat can be so expensive. It might be easier on your finances to forgo protein, but it will make it harder to meet your family’s nutritional minimums. Consider building your menu around less expensive sources of protein, like chuck eye steak, pork shoulder, brisket, chicken, and tuna fish. You could opt for even lower cost alternate sources of protein, like beans, tofu, nuts, and lentils.[4]

4. Use coupons

Coupon clipping can go a long way towards trimming your spending. Check your local grocery store’s coupon book or website for monthly deals. A quick Google search can help you find coupons for specific brands or types of food online.[4]

5. Buy the store brand

If you can’t find coupons for a particular brand, then consider buying the store’s unbranded version. It’s often much less expensive and just as healthy.

Budgeting food for a family of four isn’t the easiest task in the world, but hard work, research, and careful planning can make the process easier. Set aside some time to address your grocery budget, and come up with a money–saving strategy that will work for your family and your finances.

About the Author:

Check ‘n Go has been a leader in online payday loans and check cashing services for over 15 years, helping to build legitimacy to the consumer lending industry through their work with the Consumer Financial Services Association. Check ‘n Go sets high standards for responsible and ethical lending in a rapidly expanding cash advance and payday loan business. Check ‘n Go works tirelessly to provide consumers with auto title loans, check cashing, installment loans, and other financial needs.


[1] USDA. “Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.” Official USDA Food Plans. 02 08: n. page. Web. 10 Feb. 2012..

[2] Moore, Rebecca. “The Grocery Budget Needs for a Family of Four.” eHow Money. 24 03 2011: n. page. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <>.

[3] “Where Does the Money Go?” Visual Economics. 2009: n. page. Web. 10 Feb. 2012..

[4] Rella, Jack. “The Average Food Budget for a Family of Four.” eHow Money. n.d. n. page. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <>.

FTC disclaimer – I have not received any compensation for hosting this guest post. The ads on the site do generate a bit of revenue.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,