Obviously you could add up all of your receipts for a year to see where you spent your money, but I made a spreadsheet called My Annual Shopping List with almost every item we buy in a year. It was tedious, but so useful.
I listed everything we buy in a month and totaled it. Then I added columns to show what we use and spend every three months, and then a year. Holy cow! I included both perishable and shelf-stable foods, paper goods, cleaning products, etc.
Though time consuming, this was an eye opening experience, because I could start looking for better ways to save money on various items. Before I had this list, I was shopping mostly at two stores – Smith’s and Costco. Okay, I like the food samples at Costco. But coming in another post, I will show you my new shopping game plan. And which stores I will be shopping at for what and when.
You know my first change was shopping for milk when it’s on a manager’s special. We only use 3 gallons per week, but at $2.39 per gallon, that’s $372.84 a year. And now I can get it for $1.50, and if I have a coupon, for only .75 cents per gallon. Here at my Smith’s (Kroger) store, they will combine the coupon on manager’s specials.
I’ve been hacking away at every item on the list, searching for ways to save money. It’s almost addictive . . . actually it is addictive. I can do so much better, and most of you know I follow prices carefully. The wonderful thing about putting it all in a spreadsheet, is I can sort columns by the most expensive to the least expensive, or by category, or alphabetically by item. About now you might think I’m crazy. So let’s look at some examples.
The most expensive item on the list was bread. Can you believe it?
- 240 loaves per year x $2.25 at Costco = $540.00
- 240 loaves per year x $1.25 at Sara Lee Grocery Outlet = $300.00
- Savings of $240.00. What could you do with an extra $240.00? Buy more food storage! Or put some money in your emergency fund. I buy a months worth of bread, and stock it in my full-sized freezer on the top shelf.
Ground beef was next on the list, then yogurt, milk, chicken breasts, and shredded cheese. There is a pattern here. Perishable foods. Feminine items came next, followed by breakfast cereal.
Today I bought the Kroger version of Lucky Charms, called Magic Stars. Though in a larger bag, it came to about $1.69 per equivalent box. I usually spend $2.50 when Lucky Charms goes on sale. We don’t eat a lot of cereal, especially Lucky Charms all the time, but let’s use it in this example:
- 72 boxes of cereal per year x $3.29 (full price) at Smith’s = $236.88
- 72 boxes of cereal per year x $2.50 (on sale) = $180.00
- 72 boxes of cereal per year x $1.69 (generic) = $121.68
- Savings of $115.20.
It’s nice to see the big picture and change it. I told my husband last night that it was liberating to make these changes. He just smiled at me. One more thing:
- I spend $130 per week for 5 people x 52 weeks = $6760. But it’s going down!
- This includes stocking up on food storage every month.