Monday, May 11, 2009

Progress Update: 2009 Savings Tracker

It can be tricky to quantify exactly how much you save on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Whenever you see the total amount saved at the bottom of a receipt, it can feel like you are saving quite a bit. But, do you really know how much this adds up over time?

This year I decided to keep tabs on what our family saves. I created a savings tracker spreadsheet to record money saved from coupons, discounts, sale prices, clearance prices, and rebates. My goal for 2009 is to save at least $5000. As you can see from my progress so far this year, we are almost half way there.

What have I learned so far? By tracking our savings, it gives us a good basic idea of how much savvy shopping positively impacts our wallet. However, I feel that it only shows us a fraction of what we truly save. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

Groceries: Although we shop at a regular grocery store about once a month or so, we do the majority of our grocery shopping at Aldis and Costco. With these stores, there is no "total amount saved" at the bottom of the receipt. We know that we are saving a great deal of money at these two stores, but unless you took the time to figure the savings per item over the regular grocery store prices, it would be difficult to quantify how much you actually save. I keep a pricebook to validate that we truly are saving money by shopping at Aldis and Costco, and I know which items are the better value among all stores, so I have a sense of how much we save. But, since there's no precise way to measure these savings, I exclude this from my savings tracker.

Used Items: Whether it's kid's clothes, toys, or furniture, I'm always open to buying good quality used items over paying full price for new ones. Our family saves a great deal of money each year by picking up kid's items at garage sales or on Craigslist. Last year, we bought Junior D a bedroom set off Craigslist. It was still available new in local furniture stores for $900 plus tax. We found the same slightly used set from a family who was moving and paid only $150. Saving money by buying used items can really pay off, but the total amount saved is often hard to measure, so this is another category that I have excluded from my savings tracker.

Meals Out: Daddy Diva and I both pack our lunches to take to work almost every day. At $5 a day, if we were to buy lunch every day, we would be spending an extra $200 a month. We also only eat dinner out about once a month. Cooking at home and packing lunches saves us a great deal of money and helps us maintain a healthy diet. Again, this would be a difficult one to quantify in terms of how much money this saves us.

If you'd like to check out the Diva family savings tracker, click on the Year To Date Savings link on the right pane of this blog. The link will route you to a spreadsheet listing monthly savings totals so far for this year as well as a detailed breakdown of what we have saved over the course of the current month.

Your Turn: How do you keep tabs on how much you save? Do you set a goal for the year, and if so, what is it?

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. When I first started couponing I tracked my savings per trip and the amount of time I put in to prepare. I wanted to make sure it was worth my time - and it is. I haven't formally tracked since, but we do track all our expenses so I can see that we are spending LESS on groceries now than we were 3 years ago - and now we have 2 kids and things cost more.