Step one to saving money is knowing where your money is going.
Besides home costs, food is the biggest expense that most families have. I don’t know much about clipping coupons or comparing flyers, but I am very good at knowing where my money is going. Especially when it come to feeding my growing family.
Every Friday morning, I do a personal financial review. I grab my handy-dandy food expense tracker, my laptop, and an amazing erasable pen (that’s totally a plug because FriXion Pens are really THAT good). Most financial gurus recommend a cash envelope system (including me) but, as I mentioned, I’m very good about tracking my money so I use my credit card for everything. (I’m such a rebel!) Through the week, I toss all my receipts into a kitchen drawer and, on Friday, I usually just pull up my recent transactions and go through my week’s food-related charges.
There are fancy programs and spreadsheets that allow you to track exactly how much you’re spending on each item at each particular store and all sorts of other fancy details. Being perfectly honest here, that sounds like a system that would be great to have but it just isn’t sustainable for me.
I track the date, store name, and whether it was groceries or eating out. That’s it. If I bought toilet paper at the grocery store, I log it as “groceries.” If I buy a coffee at Tim Hortons’ I log it as “eating out.” Another perk of such a simple system is that I don’t want to make it more complicated by buying a sandwich at the gas station. That keeps fuel and food receipts separate and it saves me the money on buying a premade sandwich.
It also helps that I meal plan so I only have to go to the grocery store once per week. That and I don’t like to take 3 small children to the grocery store more often than necessary. It’s a win-win.
I fill in the blanks and, at month’s end, add up the totals of each column. Then I add up the columns so I know the full amount I spend on food each month. At the end of the year, I can add up all my totals and find the average I spend each month. That’s why I know that my quest to eat out less this year than we did last year is succeeding.
Without further ado, here is a printable for those of you who are interested in keeping better track of your food expenses.
Remember, step one to saving money is to knowing where your money is going.