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Can you spend $800 a YEAR on food for a family of four?

This woman can. She astounds me.

She has an $800 ANNUAL budget for herself, her three daughters, and two dogs.

According to her blog, this $800 covers:

1. all food
2. all HBA (health and beauty items)
3. all dog food
4. all eating out
5. all cleaning supplies
6. all coupons I pay for (the paper)

That is some amazing coupon-ing / frugality / self-discipline right there!

$800 would last me (one smallish girl with a big appetite and a deep love for all foods delicious) around 4 months if I’m really good and limit my dining out to 4-5 times a month.

$800 MAY last me 5 months if I really hunker down, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I’m going to read her blog mostly because I’m curious, and maybe I’ll get a couple of tips that I can incorporate into my life.

  • C.C. - OMG. $800 a year? I definitely can’t do that. I spend about $100 every other month on beauty products alone..ReplyCancel

  • Vixel - That’s pretty amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Chantalle - Can you imagine being stuck behind her at the grocery store when she’s trying to do 5 transactions to take advantage of all the coupons? Ugh.

    But good for her. I did read that she stockpiled food though. Maybe she stockpiled enough for a year?ReplyCancel

  • Amphritrite - Jane’s pretty amazing; she’s one of the couponers over at HotCouponWorld.com. I’ve spoken with her on several occasions and she and her girls are all wonderful people.ReplyCancel

  • The New Black - That is amazing! I just watched an episode of 17 & Counting where it outlined how much they spent/saved on their necessities and it floored me! If everyone else can be so thrify, then I should be able to…it’s just that I am too lazy to do the extra work. :) ReplyCancel

  • Serendipity - I have been reading lately the blog called The Grocery Challenge and the lady spends 60 bucks a week for a family of 6. It astonishes me because I can barely feed Rambo and I under 70 a week and we’re TWO people with busy schedules. I disgress.ReplyCancel

  • mapgirl - It occurs to me that her family might not be super picky eaters. Some of the processed foods in her pictures aren’t stuff that I’d ever eat. Nor do I think it’s a good idea to stock pile deodorants (Stuff I saw in a Walgreen’s haul post). Who needs all that deodorant anyway? Does she turn it around to charity for a donation benefit on her taxes?

    I think it’s awesome that she wants to spend her time couponing to save money. But for the 30 minutes she spends each week, that’s 26 hrs per year. At an estimate rate for my work of $40/hr that’s over $1000 a year. I guess couponing could be worth it if you are dedicated. But when you add in cooking time it starts to erode pretty fast in time value. (Because that 1 hour I spend cooking and cleaning up could be another billable hour working from home for me.)

    I’m in the ‘Do what works for you’ contingent. I use coupons sometimes and I try to buy only things that are on sale at the supermarket (like bf’s Diet Cokes). I don’t think coupons are a waste of time. I am just very very wary of stockpiling in a pantry because that to me is just another kind of waste in the end.ReplyCancel

  • rhealitycheck - That is amazing. If I’m lucky and I *really* budget I can make it last 3 months but that still wouldn’t include the health and beauty items or cleaning supplies. And that’s just for little old me, with no pets. (I’m not good at limiting my eating out, if I could cut that out or down I could maybe do 4 months).

    I want to know how she does it. I just can’t imagine that coupons can save *that* much. Also how much of that is for real produce because I don’t tend to have much in my pantry at all. I typically buy strictly perishables which I believe tend to be more expensive and don’t have as many coupons available.ReplyCancel

  • T - Disclaimer: I haven’t clicked on the link yet.

    Hmm… she must live in a REALLY, REALLY small town and grow most of her own food. I couldn’t do it. I could maybe get through 8 months if I ate very little and NEVER ate or drank outside of my home. But a whole year? with other people? and an animal?ReplyCancel

  • JANE4girls - Hello everyone! It is me Erin aka JANE4girls. This information is from my blog.

    Let me first start by saying thank you for posting this information. I want as many people to learn about being frugal as possible.

    Yes, some of our food is processed junk. Everyone eats processed food unless you are growing or slaughtering it yourselves.

    I am able to obtain this goal for my family through hard work and planning. Do I have to coupon? No, but when I started four years ago I did and I have kept it up. By not spending major money on grocery items like so many people do, I have money for the other things in life (college for 3 girls, glasses, braces, field trips and vacations) As a single mom, if I didn’t save where I could we would not be able to get the other things that go along with raising kids.

    I do live in a small town, just outside Houston, a huge city. My stores will double and triple coupons so that make my money go even further. I do grow fresh produce and I have learned to barter stockpiled items for items I can’t get free or cheap like meats and other produce.

    Because of my vast stock pile when I go shopping I usually just “cherry pick” and fill in the missing holes in my stock, which means I don’t take long at the grocery at all, don’t be afraid to get behind me in line.ReplyCancel

  • SuperLia - Erin, that is amazing. Good for you, and how wonderful for your daughters that they are learning from watching you react to a mountain of bills and molehill of paycheck by being smart and resourceful. I am very impressed by you.

    I am also very curious about how much stockpiling space you have. I have a small apartment, but also think that there are always excuses :) I’m going to try to learn from you!ReplyCancel

  • JANE4girls - I have plenty of stockpile space, but you get creative when you have to. We have a nice size storage closet under our stairs for all the HBA stuff. Half of a master closet is where I keep my tp and kleenex stockpile. The cleaners are all kept in the garage on shelves I got…for free, lol.

    I know people stuff things under their beds, in cabinets they don’t use, in footlockers…you name it.ReplyCancel

  • Coupon neophyte « Well-Heeled, with a mission - [...] 24, 2009 by wellheeled I read through a little of Jane’s couponing techniques on her blog. The amount of stuff she gets with her coupons is really amazing. Even before I read [...]ReplyCancel

  • Family of 5 Lives On Under

    ,000 A Month | Well-Heeled, with a mission - [...] Earlier in the year I found the blog of an amazing lady who feeds herself and her 4 daughters on $800 a year. [...]ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Great post! It sounds pretty amazing, it can be done. I applaud her efforts and I hope more people would be more resourceful with what they have. We waste so much nowadays, we don't even notice. ReplyCancel

  • Lazy shopper | Well Heeled Blog - [...] devoted solely to coupons, showcasing people’s ability to get $200 worth of goods for $10 or feed a family of 5 on just $800 a year. (MoneyMateKate is one of my favorite couponers, as she uses her powers for good – donating [...]ReplyCancel

  • wellheeled - I think you’re right. I’m too picky of an eater to try this, even without calculating what my billable rate is.ReplyCancel

  • mapgirl - BTW, I eat LOTS of processed foods. But the items I see for sale with coupons are not foods I find particularly interesting, like cold cereal for instance. I dislike milk and most cold cereals. (I don’t have a sweet tooth so I actually dislike the pancakes my bf makes for breakfast, but I shut up and eat them anyway.)

    The stuff that is processed that I eat I cannot find coupons for.

    As it is, I do buy a lot of club card stuff on sale, which I guess is a form of couponing, but I don’t think of it that way.ReplyCancel

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