I have always been intimidated by the word “spreadsheet.” I don’t know why — maybe because numbers intimidate me! Nevertheless, when I realized my methods of tracking my budget were ancient, time consuming and inefficient, I decided to be brave and start a spreadsheet for my couponing adventures. Setting up the spreadsheet was not exactly easy, but now that it’s done, it has become my new best friend! You may have read this recent KCL post on using a spreadsheet to track your savings. If you still aren’t convinced, read on. Here are seven reasons why you may find it worthwhile to use a couponing spreadsheet:
1. Instant gratification
I love to enter my receipts and see how much money I saved. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get to the computer fast enough! For example, here is how I entered a recent receipt from Walgreens on my spreadsheet: Total cost; $7.98, coupons; $6.00. Final out of pocket; $1.98. Percentage saved: 73.89%.
2. Combat overspending
We’ve all done it. How many times have you looked at your budget and realized that you spent more money than you intended to at one store? For example, Harris Teeter is my main grocery store. I was reviewing my spreadsheet for this month and saw a receipt for $117.00. That is much more than I normally spend at one time, so I pulled the receipt to see where my money went. There were several stock-up deals, some great prices on meats, and dog food was on sale. The money was well spent, but that red flag on my spreadsheet helped me make sure I wasn’t mindlessly going over my budget.
3. Track rebates
How many times have you mailed in a rebate, only to lose track of how long you’d been waiting for your check? Set up your spreadsheet with a rebate column so you can track the amount of your rebate and when it was mailed and received. Rebates help your bottom line, so it’s important to track them carefully!
4. Spending accountability
This is my least favorite part of the spreadsheet. I admit it, I love to shop. I love it even more when I save lots of money, so since I’m a KCL, I tend to shop a lot. At any time, I can look at my spreadsheet and see how much money I have left to spend for the month, so I know when it’s time to slow down my spending and use rolling rewards, gift cards, ECBs and +UPs to get the items I want and still stay within my budget!
5. Paperless tracking
I use one particular credit card for all of my coupon purchases. This card is paid off each month, has no yearly interest fees, and I make money with my purchases. However, I don’t like to log in to the credit card account to track my expenses — it’s just too much trouble. I’ve tried writing down my purchases to keep track of how much I have spent for the month, but that’s too time consuming, and then I have to be sure not to lose the paper. My spreadsheet is saved in my documents on my computer — no password, no paper, and no need to access the Internet!
6. Calculate your savings percentage
Set up your spreadsheet to track how much you saved on each purchase. I log store discounts and coupons for each transaction to find my percentage savings. My target is at least 50 percent savings, and my goal is 75 percent. Look below the total on your receipt and you will find your store savings and coupon savings. For example, Harris Teeter figures the store savings amount along with the coupons I have used during the transaction. Their receipt also shows my store savings for the year. Per my spreadsheet, my current monthly savings rate is 63.04 percent!
7. Transitional changes
As you know, a budget is a guide — it’s not set in stone. Some months I may spend more because of holidays or birthdays. Some months are shorter, so I might save more money in February than I do in March. Sales are cyclical, and you can adjust your budget accordingly. Your spreadsheet will help you see how fluctuations in your monthly expenditures tend to even out in the long run. Flexibility is something we couponers are well acquainted with, so don’t forget to apply that adaptability to your budgeting, as well!
This is a guest post by Tammy from St. Pauls, NC
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