A Year of Good Food

Welcome to Year Two of our Three Year Experiment! Our goal as a family is to double our net worth and become location independent within three years, or right as I turn 40. Our dream is to become less dependent on our traditional jobs, and be able to travel more or live abroad for a few years. We’re aiming to get to that point by the end of 2019, but it’s a big goal, and we’ll need to challenge ourselves to make it happen.

Year One’s challenge  was “A Year of Good Habits.” Each month of the year, I focused on adopting one new habit to help us achieve our goal (I wrote about the results of that experiment here). I found that yes, making your bed each day does help you get better at financial stuff. Strange, but true. When you start the day with small accomplishments, you start to believe you’re someone who gets things done. You begin to trust yourself more. And that trust carries over into how you manage your money, how you spend, and how much you save. We were able to save up cash for several costly home repairs, completely pay off our apartment in Chile, and kill our last car loan. We increased our net worth by more than 30%, getting us really close to hitting 1/3 of our goal of doubling our net worth in Year One.

Year Two’s Challenge  is called “A Year of Good Food.” Our family spent an average of $966 US per month on groceries in 2017 for our family of four. That’s almost $12,000 in just groceries last year.

groceries week 5--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
A typical week’s grocery haul.

But we’ve tried for years, without lasting success, to lower this number. So this year, our main goal is going to be to stay within a budget that’s about 20% less than what we spent last year–$772US per month.

That might seem like a huge number, but for us, if we were to be able to reduce our food spending by almost $200 per month, that would mean $2400 in savings at the end of the year. To incentivize ourselves, we’ll take that $200 per month in savings and transfer it to a special savings account for Chile. By the end of the year, if we keep our grocery spending below our goal, we’ll have enough for two roundtrip tickets to Santiago.

This year we want to challenge ourselves to consistently hit what is, hopefully, an achievable goal. This year we’re going to give this spending area lots of attention and focus to see if we’re able to make lasting changes in our behavior.

Each month, we’ll focus on one new habit related to food to help us achieve our goal. I’ll write about how we did at the end of the month, and share which habits were more helpful in controlling our food spending.


January’s habit: make one, and only one, grocery shopping trip per week. We aimed to spend no more than $150 per week on groceries, and eliminate small trips to buy “one or two” items. How’d we do at making only one trip per week?

Here’s January’s report. 

Total spent: $767.80 


February’s habit: shop with a list. We did this in January, but we did stray from the list a bit and buy extra food, which resulted in a very full refrigerator and pantry. My hope is to buy smaller hauls over the next few weeks, eat up the food we have on hand, and eliminate our side trips to pick up “one or two things” here and there. Those trips really add up quickly. I’m changing my behavior, and one of those really ingrained behaviors seems to be, buy enough food!! My reptilian brain doesn’t want me to starve. But my rational brain knows we’re throwing food away we have so much!

Click here for February’s report.

Total Spent in February: $713.51. 


For March, we’re using cash. I went to the bank today and pulled out $360 in efectivo. I hope that will last until mid-month. I’m handing over some to Mr. ThreeYear, in case he feels the urge to pick up any groceries. Will we spend less because cash is mentally harder to part with? It remains to be seen. We have five Fridays in March (which is the day we buy groceries) so this will be a tough month. We’ll keep you posted!

Total spent in March: $757.24


In April, I’m going to shop at the same store each week. We have a lot planned for this month, so we’ll keep one thing easy–our grocery store. Hopefully, this will allow us to get in and out more quickly. And since the spring fruits and veggies are starting to come in, I hope we’ll have some good deals this month and will be able to eat better quality food. The snow’s still not gone, so I have to get Spring where I can!