Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keeping a Grocery Budget on Excel

One thing I was NOT when I got married to my husband was organized. The one thing that annoys me the most and helps me the most is his organization skills. This extends to budgeting the monthly grocery budget and list. He has a system and I think it is great. It has truly helped our family out a bunch. Getting started takes a bit of work but it is worth the effort. You need a place to keep receipts and an excel-type program on your computer. Here is what we do.

In order to get started, the first month you need to…

1. Keep every single receipt we get from every purchase. I found an old school crayon-supply holder of my daughters and set it in the kitchen. Then every time the family buys something, as far as groceries go, we stick the receipt in the box.
2. Go through the box at the end of the month. My husband calculates the total we spent on groceries for that month and writes it on the top of an excel sheet.

Then my husband went even further and this step is what has really helped with organization and saving money.

3. Make a list of commonly bought items. For instance with five girls we drink a bunch of milk and applejuice. Those are always on our list. This list is now my shopping list. I can print this blank sheet out and use it to remind me what to buy at the store. We have also posted a copy in our cupboard to keep track of what we normally have stored, but that is for another post.
4. My husband also has calculated, from the previous months receipts, how much milk we are using, for instance. Or, how many diapers we used and how much we spent. This led me to switch to cloth diapers. I have also cut down on the amount of orange juice we are buying because no one is drinking it and we are not buying frozen, we are buying it in the container. No sense wasting something we do not drink. So, I changed the required number of OJ to buy on the shopping list. That way if dear old hubby goes to the store for me, he will not buy as much.
5. The next step really takes extra work but again, if you are on a really tight budget, it is worth it. We shopped at two different stores and bought the same, or basically the same brand milk. Then we compared the prices. There is also occasionally in our newspaper an article about milk prices. We therefore know which store to buy our milk in. Every cent counts in a house with five girls. Especially with as much milk as we drink! Well, baby Sarah drinks Mama’s milk but her time is coming!

Now, this may seem really like penny pinching and too much work but after the initial set up on excel, it is smooth sailing from then on. Now we simply keep the receipts and do a monthly tally. We then know if our money saving efforts have worked for the month. If there is a drastic change in the total for the month, my husband looks through the list and sees what happened.

No comments: