Keep Track of Your Expenses
We have an amazing shopping tip that will help you save a ton of money, and it has nothing to do with sales, coupons, or promo codes. This strategy comes down to being able to properly track your expenses.
All you have to do is use a simple document like Excel or Microsoft word. If you don’t have either of those programs on your computer or tablet, you could use gmail’s document software: Google Sheets and Google Docs. The point is, you want to be able to keep a running total of what you’re spending by month when you shop for clothing, groceries, and household items. the value is that by seeing how much your spending, you can see if your spending within your budget or if you have extra money to put towards other purchases.
When I do this, I also keep track of my expenses by date and by store, but if you are feeling extra ambitious, you can keep track of your expenses by each individual item. Either one is fine, the whole goal is to just make sure your observing your total spend.
From my chart, I was then able to see how much money i spent on groceries and other items in the month of October. Although, my spend was slightly above the budget i had set, the good news is I tracking it. It made aware that I had gone over and next month I know that I need to spend a little less next time around!
In an ideal world, you will use documents to keep a running total of every month, allowing you to look back and see what you spent over the course of an entire year. It may shock you have much money you are spending because you weren’t initially aware of it. The spreadsheet will also allow you to figure out which purchases you could do without. Something I like to do is to highlight unnecessary purchases in yellow or red, this way I can see how much I can save if I cut those out. This is the classic example, but I was in a bad habit of buying certain products everyday and did not seem like a lot of money when looking at each day, but over time, it was a lot of money that I could save. Every day on my way to work I would stop at my local deli and get a fruit cup ($4.5) and a coffee ($3.5) -- that's $8/day, which doesn't sound so bad. However, when you add that up over the course of a year, that's around $2500 if you only count work days! That is so much money that could be used elsewhere. I instantly realize after making my spreadsheet that I needed to buy my own fruit in bulk and make my own coffee. Doing so saved me about 60%!
Aside from keeping a spreadsheet, another trick I like to use help me keep my expenses down is pay cash when possible. Sometimes, a credit card or debit card feels too removed from the act of shopping. It’s just a piece of plastic and you can’t tell how much you’ve spend until you log onto your banking app/website or get a statement in the mail. When you have to hand over physical cash, you are more aware of the outflow of money and it’ll make you want to spend less. Just be sure to add your cash purchases to your expense spreadsheet as well.