April 8, 2010

Saving 101: Budgeting and Knowing Prices

It's all in the numbers! How will you know you are saving if you don't know what you normally spend? How will you know you found a good deal if you don't know what you normally pay?

Keep Track
The first step is keeping track. Figure out what you are spending on groceries right now. You can keep receipts or make a spreadsheet. Simple or complex... it's up to you, but keep track of what you are spending.

Oh, no! Not the "b" word! Once you've keep track of your spending for long enough you should set a goal of what you want to be spending. No one can tell you what to budget. Every family is different. You may have a large family or children with food allergies. You may only eat organic while others must have gourmet ingredients for special dishes.

The bottom line: Know what you are spending and then set a new goal. Have you been spending $200 a week? Set a goal to try and spend only $150 and see if you can do it. Keep lowering your budgeted amount as you learn new saving strategies.

Know Your Prices
Some savvy shoppers like to keep a price book. If you are forgetful or just getting started I recommend you give this a try. If you are more experienced or have a great memory you might be able to get by just remembering.

If the goal is to always buy items at the lowest price you need some measure of what "low" really is. I have listed some of my personal best prices in the "stock up" tab above.

I organize my coupons in envelopes. So instead of a price book, I occasionally write down prices on my coupon envelopes. That way I can confirm a good price if I see a deal somewhere. When I know it's a great deal then I stock up.

Even if you start out with a price book you may eventually not need it anymore. As you shop deals more often you will start to get a feel for good deals and know when to take advantage of them.

Here are some links about price books:
The Dollar Stretcher
Blogging Away Debt
Get Rich Slowly
No Credit Needed

No comments: