Defining My Goal to Grow or Work for the Food My Family Eats

Working out of our guest bedroom today because there is a desk in here.
Working out of our guest bedroom today because there is a desk in here.
I realize the sooner I have this conversation with myself the better.  You know the conversation where I define exactly what I need to do to be successful helping monetarily support my family while being a Stay at Home Mom.  Also, the meat I pulled out to make a triple batch of meatballs is still mostly frozen and thus I can't work on my recipe post.
Here's the big question:  How much do I need to add to my family's income?  No income isn't right because I want to grow/work for some of our food and that won't make money directly.  Perhaps savings? GDP? Net worth.  Net worth isn't quite right really because I need to look at yearly gain.  I'm going to call it Yearly Net Income. How much do I need to add to my family's yearly net income in the next year to validate working from home in the future?   
Next I should figure out what our family's yearly net income was for 2014.  Ugh this sounds like a tax question.  Luckily, we are an analytically inclined couple and in 2010 we started keeping track of our money on a website called Mint.  It takes a little work to set up, but then it sorts what you spend into categories automatically.  You can see where your money goes by asking Mint to show you graphs over time of various categories.
I feel weird about putting exact numbers up on the internet for all to see.  Money Taboos. Money Taboos. Money Taboos!  I am going to have to give some details since it is part of why I am writing this blog.  For now I'm going to show you in percentages.  That might be more useful anyways because cost of living varies and this way I can show you with less of that detritus in the way.
Ready?  Here's where my family spent our money last year (2014):
Post 3 Spending over the last year graph pie chart mint
The break down looks like this:
25% Home (mostly for our mortgage and a little for furnace repair)
18% Food and Dining
11% Bills and Utility (cell phones, internet, gas, and electricity)
10% Shopping (Target and Goodwill are in this category so it is mostly clothing and toiletries)
10% IRA savings
7% Auto and Transport (Gas and Insurance as we own both our cars.)
7% Health and Fitness (The birth of our baby and my husband's dental work cost about the same, interesting.)
4% Student Loan Payments
3% Travel
5% Other (including taxes, gifts, donations, and pets)
I looked at 2013 and it was very similar except we got back money from our taxes and instead of spending money on birthing a baby we spent it on a car.
Ideally, we would like to be paying off our house faster and putting more into retirement.  If we could, my spouse and I, would max out our IRA's at $10,000 and put what's leftover towards our house.  Once our house is paid off we could start looking at saving and traveling more.  That's a bit of dream right now.
As you can see our Food and Dining spending is our second biggest category next to our mortgage.
What I hope to find out this year is how much can I decrease what we spend on food by:
  1. Growing and preserving more myself
  2. Working in exchange for food
  3. Generating an income myself to off set the costs
  4. Reducing the amount we buy at traditional grocery stores like Kroger (8% of our income last year went to Kroger. That's 44% of all the money we spent on food.)
Thanks to Mint, I now know how much I need to off set our food budget.  It's a number so I'm not going to post it, just call it 18%.
Out of curiosity I am now calculating how much of a salary I would need to earn to offset these costs; factoring in childcare as that would become a necessity.  It isn't that much actually.  I could probably do it with a part time job.  Although I haven't tried looking for a job around here and I'm not sure what a base salary is like or if I could find anything that would pay me for my skill set and would feel like meaningful work. 
As it turns out to cover childcare, our food budget, plus an additional 10k to max out our IRAs I would have to earn about what I made before we moved here and started a family.  Oh man,  that is so doable!  I don't think there is anyway I could make that kind of income by working in exchange for food or doing work from home.  But since I am not going to be working this year anyways, I'm at least going to try and grow enough food or work in exchange to offset 18% of our 2014 net income.
Not a hopeful note to end this post on.  I know that if we follow the statuesque the best way to increase my family's income is for me to get a tradition salaried job and only garden as a hobby.  We could still buy our food locally.  But I want to explore the option that I could grow or earn our food.  So that's what I am going to do this year.  And that's real - really real.  


  1. So the "financial" slice of your pie is your retirement savings? Do you have a rainy day account? I think most financial planners would tell you that a rainy day account with 6-12 months of living expenses in it is a priority that comes second only to paying off credit card debt. If you do have a rainy day account, how did you build it up? My attempts at this have been dismal.

    1. I guess I just glossed right over the financial category. Yes, that is how much of our income went into IRAs last year. We keep enough liquid at any time to float us for 3-4 months. We could also pull some of the principal of our Roth IRAs without penalty, not the best idea but it would do in a pinch. Plus we have a Health Savings Account that is generally maxed out so we could cover the deductible of our health insurance if we had unexpected medical bills.

      As for how to build that up? We have the Health Savings Account auto withdraw an amount monthly from the paycheck. When the Health Savings Account is full we switch and put that same amount of money into our IRAs. If we have extra in our rainy day account come tax time, we put the surplus into the IRAs too. It's not fancy, but it works for us.

  2. I can definitely relate to this subject. Most people make this analysis once a year, on New Year's Eve. I decided to not only take a closer look at my life and goals, but I make it a point to review my goals monthly and make small changes to help keep me on course. Even small improvement have a huge positive impact by year end.

    Lachelle Muse @ Ernstam