Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tracking your savings

There are many ways to track your savings from shopping sales and using coupons.  You can use paper and pencil, save your receipts or use a spreadsheet.

Personally, I like a good spreadsheet.  Not good with setting up spreadsheets?  No worries, you can Google coupon savings trackers and try out a few until you find the one that is best for you!

Why track?
Personally, it helps me stay motivated!  Especially on those days I don't feel like clipping or sorting my coupons!  It's amazing to see what you can save when you invest a little time!  If you can't really see what your efforts are saving you, you may be tempted to throw in the towel!  This also helps me track the actual money spent up to the day, in case I had to take money out of my grocery pouch for the kids... it happens when I don't have other cash, I just have to remember to put it back!

No Excel?  No problem!  Openoffice.org is a FREE program you can download that will handle MS Office documents, including Excel.  Personally, I like to save my tracking spreadsheet to my Google drive so I can access it from anywhere!

The one I have decided to use is HERE .  This allows you to track savings from coupons, ECB/rewards and store sales seperately.  Even shopping at Aldi (with 0% trackable savings), I have so far managed to save almost 90% off retail using sales and coupons.  This doesn't include my cash back apps because as I mentioned before, the money I get back from apps is used to pay for our NetFlix account and buy the occasional gift.  You may choose to put this money back into your grocery budget if you like.

I actually uploaded the spreadsheet to Google drive so I can update it anywhere.  This also avoids needed Microsoft Office or Open Office too!

What to do with those savings?
Probably one of the most common questions I get asked is what I do with my savings.  What savings?  My goal is to feed my family and get all the extra things like toiletries for $400 or less per month.  My "savings" are real and result in being able to eat really well by getting groceries and toiletries at a substantially lower price.  However, there are no excess savings to do anything with most times!

Confused?  Ok, let's say I go to Buehler's and have a bill of $168.  After coupons and sales, My total is $68.  I have saved $100, but I do not have $100 in my hand!  I simply made my $400 grocery budget stretch further!

NOW, if I spent that $68 on December 31 and I've already spent $300 in December,  I'm done grocery shopping for the month so any money I have left in my grocery money pouch ($32)  is true leftover savings. I usually carry this amount over to the next month's grocery budget so I can add to my stockpile.  However, there are times where I would take that extra $32 and put it in the vacation or gift budget instead!

Stick to your budget!  Planning meals around what's on sale and using coupons will help you buy more for the amount you have budgeted.