“Currently I am working on cutting down my food bill. I added it up for Jan 2016 and nearly passed out. It was beyond ridiculous, for three adults!” – M
This reader tallied her food expenses for a month and was shocked at how much she had spent.
Food is typically our third highest monthly expense, right behind housing and transportation. It’s not a fixed number each month, like the rent or loan payments.
So, even if we don’t want to change anything else in our budget, tracking food expenses and subsequently lowering them can make a positive difference to monthly cash flow.
What would an extra $100-200 or more each month mean to you? In our case, we have used it to pay down debt, invest it and boost emergency savings. Over time, even small amounts of money can make a huge impact if used wisely.
I’m a big proponent of tracking expenses and adjusting spending to keep it in line with your life goals and values. But, if the task of tracking all of your expenses seems overwhelming, focus on just one category (in this case food). It’s an easy and effective way to make a difference and start the habit of expense tracking.
What could you do to make the biggest impact on lowering monthly food costs? Use one month’s expenses as a guideline to begin to make changes.
How do I track food expenses?
Are you a pen and paper sort of person? Get a little notebook to carry for the purpose of recording your food expenses as you go.
How often should I record food expenses?
Do what works best for you – daily, weekly, or monthly.
Don’t want to record daily food expenditures? Save your receipts and tally them weekly or monthly, either on paper, in a spreadsheet, or one of the apps listed above.
Paper receipts not your thing? Take a picture of receipts to total later or use OneReceipt, an app that takes the picture and tracks spending.
What exactly should I track?
Track everything food related! Expenses include everything from dining out, gas station snacks/drinks, morning lattes and, of course, groceries.
Don’t cheat! You are only fooling yourself if you skip recording an expense here and there. Dishonesty will not lead to positive results.
Once you’ve tracked your food expenses for a month, you should have a clear picture of where you are spending on food. Take a hard look at where you spend the most and all the little things that add up over time. Start cutting back in those areas first.
I’m not a coupon person. Next week I’ll post how I trimmed my family’s grocery budget from $500-600 down to $300/month without clipping coupons.