This week's question is from Rational Living reader Rebecca, who asked:
"Do you keep close track of your household finances and, if so, are you seeing substantial savings from all these homemade meals and not eating out?"
I consulted the great Quicken oracle for some fast stats on the same period (Dec. 26 through Feb. 21) this year and last year and here's what I discovered:
Dec. 26, 2008 through Feb. 21, 2009
Gasoline: $197.86 (avg. price per gallon $1.87)
Eating Out: $241.72
Dec. 26, 2009 through Feb. 21, 2010
Gasoline: $147.60 (avg. price per gallon $2.50)
Eating Out: $106.50
Total savings while rationing (so far): over $470.00
Not too shabby, huh?
I know we had extra miles last February when Eowyn was hospitalized for a few days at a children's hospital around 60 miles away from home, but in general we've been able to reduce our consumption just by being more efficient with our trips. If you divide last year's figure by the average cost per gallon, that equates to 106 gallons, whereas the more recent figure equates to only 59 gallons. Even if you subtract last year's extra trips to/from the children's hospital our current rate of consumption for gasoline is down 39%.
Our eating out tab has reduced to less than half of last year's expenses. We are all surprised at how manageable the transition to reduced restaurant visitation has been.
Finally, our grocery tab is down 33%, even though more meals at home theoretically means more groceries. I imagine it is because we are spending less on commercially prepared items. Our cost per person has dropped from $4.39 per person/per day last year to $3.16 per person/per day during rationing. That figure includes several different occasions of having company over for dinner, so that actual figure is less than that. Now, some bloggers out there will say that it is still too high, but since I work outside of the home 40 hours a week and don't have the availability to prepare certain foods (breads and pastas) from scratch (although I would really love to), I'm pretty happy with that figure.
What are we doing with this savings? Well, our charitable giving is significantly higher than last year. Very significantly. Otherwise, we're trying to set aside the extra for a fabulous family vacation post-rationing.
What would you do with the extra savings?