WRAL SmartShopper

# Thursday thoughts: Tracking your grocery spending & savings in 2012

Posted January 5, 2012

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Is one of your resolutions to get your finances under control? Are you wondering how much you really spend each month on groceries? Here's a tool to help keep your spending on track all year long!

Did you track your grocery and drug store spending for 2011? Feel free to share how much you spent and saved!

This is the spreadsheet I have been using for years. In my spreadsheet, I entered the formula for percentage and the formula to add the Total Saved and Amount Paid columns to give you the Total Spent column. Most receipts tell you how much you saved so you don't have to figure it out.

Here is how you calculate the totals you will need to track your spending:

Subtotal before sales and coupons: Take the total saved and the total spent and add them together to get the subtotal before sales and coupons

Percentage saved: Take the amount you saved divided by the subtotal before sales and coupons to get the % saved.

For instance, if my subtotal was \$100 before sales and coupons and I saved \$70, the total amount paid is \$30. To determine the percentage saved, the equation would look like this:

\$70 divided by \$100 = .70 (70% savings)

I do recommend you enter your receipts weekly. Just like clipping coupons, if you get too far behind, it can be time consuming to catch up.

Even if you find it to be too much work to enter all the columns, at least enter amount spent each week. This will let you know if you are staying in your budget and give you the heads up if you need to reign in your spending.

If you don't want to track the information via computer, then track it on paper. The key is to know how much you are spending every week and to stay within your budget.

Now it's time to start saving your receipts and entering them each week. If you go over budget a little one week, just make up for it the next week. My weekly budget was \$70 per week in 2011 and remains at \$70 per week for 2012. That includes food, paper products, cleaning products, dog food (we have 1 dog), and health and beauty items for 2 adults and 2 children ages 10 and 12. Here's my question: How much hair product does one middle school girl really need?!  Thankfully, the drug stores have such great deals on bath and beauty items after coupons and rewards!

Next week on Thursday Thoughts, I'll be addressing how to create your weekly grocery budget.

As I always say: It's your money - spend it wisely (and tracking your weekly grocery spending is a great way to make sure you are spending wisely)!

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• ###### finkrkJan 12, 2012

Faye,

When I entered my information on your spreadsheet, I got a number with a long decimal after. Do you just I round the number? The subtotal before sales/coupons was \$70.31. My amount saved was \$9.61. The total amount was \$60.70. My percentage saved came to 6.3163371488.

This is the first time I am tracking my spending using a spreadsheet. I noticed your examples had even numbers. Any advise is appreciated and thanks for the tips!

• ###### Oxymoron02Jan 6, 2012

"How much hair product does one middle school girl really need?!"

I don't track my savings, but I do track what I spend. As part of the budget spreadsheet, every penny spent is accounted for.

I don't do a weekly budget, never have. As a life long stockpiler, I buy low, and there are weeks where grocery shopping consists of running in for a gallon of milk and a bag of apples. My budget is, and has been for 1.5 decades now, \$2 per person per day. That's all food, paper products, cleaning, toiletries and pet care.

One of my budgetary tricks is to buy gift cards. In December I purchased \$200 in GCs at HT, a \$50 GC for CVS, and left myself \$50 cash for whereever needed to be filled in. I ended December with \$1.99 available at HT, nothing at CVS, and about \$5 cash. :D

• ###### swirlgirl027Jan 6, 2012

The spreadsheet is not working for me. I can't use it to enter my own information.

• ###### NancyJan 6, 2012

ooohh, pirategirl, that would be KILLER hard to take! I can't fathom losing your master's work!!!! Lessons learned huh? :)

• ###### pirategirl12Jan 6, 2012

Nancy, when I was in grad school my computer CRASHED halfway through my master's program! Oh my gosh! Now, I backup files times 3!!!

• ###### Faye Prosser - Smart ShopperJan 6, 2012

Thanks Erin for the info. You will love having Aldi close by! I so wish there was one near my house.

• ###### erinlikescouponsJan 6, 2012

Faye, there are 2 adults and 2 kitties. We just got the kittens in May, so we bought toys, a bed, litterbox, water bowls, food, etc. Those little suckers are expensive starting out!

I could probably scale down our grocery budget to less than \$80/week, but we do eat a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and buy organic products. It'll probably be less this year since an Aldi just opened by my house. Their produce prices are AMAZING!

• ###### lindseybflippinJan 6, 2012

First, I want to say THANK YOU to Faye and Nancy for all the money that they have saved me.
Second, I just started "seriously couponing" in Sept after my husband got injured in Afghanistan. With all of his surgeries/doc appts we (quickly) went from two incomes to one. (Couponing has been able to save us and keep us in the apartment that we are in!!! )
Third, I am so excited for the 6 inserts this weekend!
Fourth, What is the best way to sign up for FayObserver papers? (Online special doesn't look much better than going to the gas station and picking up a paper...)
P.S. I have saved \$803.41 just in coupons (since oct 1 and \$ 104.00 in HT zav)
Again, thanks so much for EVERYTHING you do!!

Faye -
Believe me I KNOW how much hair product my middle school aged girlie goes thru...hence 5 bottles of various hair gels @ yesterday's SD's LOL!!

Thanks for the spreadsheet, I look forward to playing around with it in 2012...

Nancy-

• ###### NancyJan 5, 2012

OMG! Remember how I told some of you that I could not print Smart Source from my computer because apparently someone had made and used copies of those I had printed and redeemed from my computer? And they cut me off?

Well, apparently one of the items replaced in my computer changed my internal address and now I can print Smart Source again!

Ok, that's ONE positive thing that's happened in the past two weeks where it seems so much has gone haywire in our household!

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##### Contributors
Faye Prosser
WRAL Smart Shopper