Do you have a monthly grocery budget? Do you stick to it?
My monthly coupon reports are a way I keep myself in check with how much money I’m spending at the grocery store (well, grocery stores) each month and in turn how many coupons I’m using with each transaction. Couponing is hobby of mine. I like to cut, clip and organize for fun… but have never really sat down and tracked how much I’m spending at the store each month and how many coupons I’m using. And of the coupons I’m using, from which source? For example do I most likely use a coupon I have cut from the newspaper, one I have printed out at home, or one clipped digitally from the store.
I used to track my spending religiously a few years ago based on a friends’ recommendation. After tracking for over a year I thought I had a good handle on where my money goes each month so I stopped counting. Recently I’ve become curious again as I have a 2 year old and money seems to fly out of my wallet faster than I realize. So I’ve started tracking expenses once again and have been surprised by the results.
April 2018 Grocery Store Spend
Total grocery store spend: $481. 45 – whoa!! – that is about double what I would have said if asked how much I spend at the grocery store in a given month. I was thinking between $150-$200. Plus, it doesn’t include any $$ my husband would have spent at the grocery store if he went. I do most of the shopping, sometimes we go together but sometimes he’ll stop on the way home from work and grab a few things; so this is just my total. I’m appalled!
I simply total all my grocery receipts at the end of a month; this includes any store I purchase groceries at. So some months may be higher if I do a stock up Costco or Target run and purchase items outside of just groceries. Plus, let’s face it, my husband and I like to drink. So included is beer and wine that’d we’d consume on a regular basis. We’ve also had a recent addition to our consumption of beverages that aren’t straight water. Meaning a lot of Lacroix and vitamin waters are also consumed in our house.
This past month we did limited entertaining. The last weekend in April we had friends from Chicago visit with their two kids. Whenever we entertain we’re pretty good hosts and make a concerted effort to do a nice spread for all meals.
Additionally I bought a lot of junk food for my niece and nephew who are in college. At the end of each semester I like to send them “finals survival kits” full of junk food to help them get through finals. So that too may be a reason for an inflated spend this month.
Finally towards the end of the month I stocked up on some diapers and wipes. We are in the process of starting to potty train my daughter, and arguably diapers and wipes are a monthly expense but also may be why the dollars look high, it’s not just for food we are consuming.
Based on the number above, I’d like to reduce the amount spent on groceries next month and make a goal of $400.00. That number seems so freaking outrageous to me, but based on what was spent in April, I may have to work for it. I’m all for seeking out the deals so this dollar figure was comprised of 12 store visits to 7 different stores.
I’ve always wondered if the amount of money I spend on the Sunday papers are actually offset by coupon usage. Never mind my time (although I recognize time is money), but could I look myself in the face and say the money I spend on the physical newspapers are offset by the amount of coupons I use in a month. The answer: maybe? I think I’m close to $1.50 per paper delivered. If I pick up an additional newspaper if I think the coupons are too good to not grab another paper they are also $1.50. I pick them up at Menards as my local Dollar Tree stopped selling them.
Newspaper – $13.05
Printed (at home) – $2.00
Digital/Store Provided – $18.69
“Extra Bucks” type or other – $25.50
Total for April 2018: $59.24
So I spent $6.00 on the physical newspaper and used $13.05 worth of coupons. I’m actually going to keep a tab on that because while I really really enjoy the Sunday paper and the physical act of cutting them out each month, the numbers below may indicate it’s not worth my time or money and just use the computer to print what I need or digitally clip.
Goals for next month
Reduce grocery bill to $400 or less
Make an attempt to reduce the number of trips to the grocery store. Likely the more trips taken = the more you’re going to spend. I realize you’re probably saying “duh” but I’ve always been one to walk in, grab a small basket, do a quick lap around and get out with what I need vs. going up and down ever aisle for an hour and spending hundreds with no intention of going back for weeks. But maybe there’s something to be said for that strategy.
Take one small step today – to help your finances tomorrow,