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. Coupons are a 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’ve used, which source did they come from (Sunday paper, digital, etc.)?
I’m a Dave Ramsey fan and have recently been into his Total Money Makeover. That has made me want to take a closer look at spending across the board.
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 went each month so I stopped. 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.
June 2018 Grocery Report
Total grocery store spend $732.99*
*note this is an estimation. After around the 20th of the month, I lost track and made a mental tally of all trips I or my husband took.
Well, the month start off with a bang. I knew my May total grocery spend was higher than I wanted it to be so I avoided going the store the last few days of the month. So when June 1st rolled around it was game on. I went to Meijer and spent $78 only to come home and find my husband had gone to another local grocery store called Angelo’s and spent $63. So we’re on day one of the month and have spent $141!
That said, I was still determined to make this month a success and limit the spend if I could.
I knew we were already starting off high so I tried as hard as I could mid-month to not go to the store. Given I/we historically make 13/14 total trips, that’s pretty much every other day. Which I realize sounds crazy but knowing that at one store I was going for one deal, then turn around to grab a deal at the next.
Goal: Use what groceries we have
This month my motto has been “use what we have” and “let go of the sale.” Meaning, remind myself that I don’t have to grab every sale there is. Also knowing that we are going on vacation from June 22nd – 29th our alcohol purchases may go up. Finally, prior to being gone from the house for a week – stop buying!
The vacation week put us over the top! As in, we were making so many trips here and there to stop for a few things, grab some beer and turn around and do the same thing the next day.
Traveling was more expensive than home
The last week of the month we spent the weekend in Minneapolis with friends. Then on Monday, we drove to Northern Wisconsin to spend the rest of the week with Nick’s family at a cabin.
We were told to not bring any groceries (of course I brought some) but that we could just chip in cash when we got there so we weren’t so overloaded with too much food or duplicative items.
Truthfully I kind of lost track of how much was spent exactly. I tried to keep the receipts but they were just flying so fast and furious nearly every day. Plus the alcohol was really starting to stack up. Beer, wine and spirits were flowing literally all week. And it was HOT in northern Wisconsin for June so the beer tasted like water and was going down pretty fast during the day.
Also, it was our niece’s 18th birthday and Nick said she’d make whatever she wanted. She wanted shrimp so we did a surf and turf dinner with large shrimp and fillet steaks for 9 adults and two children. Not a cheap meal.
Needless to say, this month was Out. Of. Control!
Mid-month I took a trip to Jewel Osco. And while my grocery trips typically include a stroll up and down nearly every single aisle, I followed my own advice and stuck with just the perimeter. Produce, meat and milk and I was out of there.
Not so proud moments:
The alcohol consumption this month was ridiculous. Like I’m embarrassed to even admit how much was actually spent. And I actually don’t even know how much was spent specifically on alcohol.
Directly prior to going on vacation I was out of control spending before we even left. Even though I was told to not bring any groceries to the cabin I couldn’t show up empty-handed. So I overspent on things like individually packaged snacks and goodies for the road trip. Huge waste of money as they were definitely not needed and didn’t even get eaten. I wouldn’t normally purchase pre-packaged Nabisco snacks but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Factors affecting grocery budget in June:
- Day one I started with a bang (hubby and I spent a lot of money combined) so it was hard to come back.
- We spent a week away from the house. Traditional groceries should have been about the same, but alcohol was likely inflated.
- Above average alcohol consumption as a direct result of a cabin vacation.
- Nieces 18th birthday dinner was an expensive meal for a larger number of people.
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 total value of coupons I use in a month. I use a coupon organizer like this one to hold all my precious coupons.
I’ve been really off printing coupons at home lately. I’m not sure if it’s my internet connection or if the printer is out of ink but I haven’t been able to get coupons.com coupons to print at home for a few months so they have been left out of the savings equation for awhile.
- Newspaper – $5.50
- Printed (at home) – $0.00 (I used to print-at-home religiously but have fallen off the wagon on even printing them out. No print = no use
- Digital/Store Provided – $23.24
- “Extra Bucks” type or other – $3.00
- App: Ibotta/Checkout51/Fetch – $3.75
- Total Coupon Savings for June 2018: $35.49
I spend $1.50 on the Sunday paper to be delivered each week. If I pick up an additional newspaper when 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.
So I spent $6.00 on the physical newspaper in June and only used $5.50 worth of printed coupons. While I really really enjoy the Sunday paper and the physical act of cutting coupons out each month, the numbers indicate it may not be worth my time or money, and that a better use of my time and money would be to use the computer to print what I need or digitally clip.
Goals for July groceries:
I’d like to start breaking down the spend into categories. I know alcohol was pretty high this month specifically because of vacation. But I’m thinking the following categories may help me understand where the money is being spent:
- Groceries – edible
- Groceries – non edible (like paper products, detergent, etc.)
- Child – Meaning stuff I purchase for my daughter Wynn like diapers
- Alcohol – self-explanatory but when I see how high this category actually is it may make me want to cut back!
Shipt Grocery Delivery
I’ve also been contemplating signing up for Shipt the grocery delivery service with Meijer (the same one Target uses). It’s $99.99 for an annual grocery delivery service. There is a $35.00 minimum but then delivery is free.
I LOVE going to the stores and matching up my coupons with sale prices in person, but I’m wondering if an online delivery option would not only save me time but help me stay on budget by only shopping one store and only buying what’s on my list.
I mentioned this service to our daycare providers who do a lot of grocery shopping for their family and for the daycare and they signed up for the free trial. They tried it and couldn’t say enough about it. From the time savings of them not having to spend an hour at the store to the fact that they are tied up from 7:00am-5:30pm Monday-Friday, they can place an order online and have it delivered anytime, they made it sound really convenient! If I do it, I’ll definitely share my experience with you!
Update: I did end up purchasing the grocery delivery service. Check out my experience here
I feel like I have my famly’s grocery budget under control, but there is always more I can be doing to save. Simply go tot he store less. Use more of what we already have in the refridgerator or freezer. Drink less alcohol or bottled and canned beverages.
What are you doing to reduce your monthly grocery bill?
Take one small step today – to help your finances tomorrow,