April 25, 2017

FREE Grocery Spending and Coupon Savings Spreadsheet

Jan 4, 2014

FREE spreadsheet to track coupon savings and grocery spending! So easy to use and it's exactly what I've been looking for!

*NOW UPDATED FOR 2015!

One very important part of couponing is tracking how much you are spending and saving. Hopefully you have a general idea of how much you spent on groceries pre-couponing, but even if you don’t, tracking your spending can be extremely beneficial. Right now is always the best time to start keeping track!

I have created this awesome and SIMPLE spreadsheet to use to track your grocery spending and savings! All you have to enter is how much you spend and save each week (most stores will calculate your savings for you at the bottom of the receipt!) and the spreadsheet will calculate the percentages for you!

How to use the Grocery Savings Spreadsheet:

First of all, in order to be able to use the spreadsheet, you need to download it to your computer or save to your Google Docs account.

Save to your computer:

1.  Open the spreadsheet in Google Docs

2.  Click on “File”

3.  Go to “Download As”

4.  Choose the program you would like to download it to.

Save to your Google Docs (Google Drive) account: (I personally like Google Docs because I don’t have to worry about losing my data if my computer crashes.)

1.  Sign in to Google Docs (it is very easy to register)

2.  Open the spreadsheet in Google Docs

3.  Click on “File”

4.  Click on “Make a Copy” (this is a VERY important step)

5.  Name and Save it

FREE spreadsheet to track coupon savings and grocery spending! So easy to use and it's exactly what I've been looking for!

Now that you have your copy of the spreadsheet, here is how you use it.

You need to save your receipts every time you buy groceries. Either input them in the spreadsheet as soon as you get home, or put them somewhere you will remember and input them at the end of the week.

The only fields you need to fill out are the light blue shaded boxes. That’s it!! Everything else is automatically calculated for you. At the top in the pink fields you can see your average weekly spending as well as your year to date (YTD) totals. This spreadsheet is made for 2015, but it is easy to update it for next year. Just create a new copy and update the week ending dates. I also hope to have a new version prepared every year.

Week Ending – Each row should include the totals for all purchases prior to and including the date entered. So, for the week ending 1/3, include all totals from 12/28 through 1/3 (Sunday – Saturday).

Spending – Input the total spent on groceries. You need to define this for yourself. For me, that includes all food, toiletries, paper goods, pet food, diapers, etc.

Savings – Input how much you saved. You need to define this for yourself as well. Will it include all savings or just coupon savings? I include all savings: coupons, sales, and clearance. Most stores calculate your savings for you and include it at the bottom of the receipt.

Stores – Input the stores you visited. This field is not necessary to fill out, but it can be helpful. I like to include this to see which stores I tend to spend more at or get the most savings from.

This spreadsheet is very simple.  You really only have to fill in the spending and savings fields and everything else is done for you!  Now you can have visual evidence of how much you are truly spending and saving.

I truly hope some of you will be able to benefit from this spreadsheet!  I know spreadsheets can seem daunting to some, but don’t be afraid! Inputting your totals will become habit after a while. I’ve been using this spreadsheet for years and I love looking back and seeing all my savings.

Do you track your grocery spending and savings?

How to Save Money When You Don’t Feel Like Couponing

Dec 16, 2013

3 easy tips for saving money on groceries when you don't feel like using coupons.

While couponing is certainly a lot of fun, there are some days where it just feels like an awful lot of work. There are definitely some days where it takes all my energy and mental focus to just get to the store, forget about using coupons!

I definitely think it’s okay to take breaks from couponing sometimes, but I do realize that for many, paying full price is just not an option. So, I’ve compiled a few tips for saving money on your groceries, even when you don’t feel like it!

Shop at Aldi

I love, love, love Aldi. They have everyday low prices so you don’t have to worry about paying for the huge markups at the grocery store. Sure, you could probably get a better deal on some things with coupons at another store, but overall they have some of the lowest prices on staples like produce, milk, and eggs.

Best of all, you can get those low prices without even having to think about it. No coupons to bother with or “buy x, save y” promotions to figure out.

Go Mobile

Another way to save on your groceries is by using your smart phone! Yes, you might still technically be using coupons, but this way doesn’t feel like it!

One of my favorite coupon apps is Target Cartwheel. When I’m shopping at Target, I keep this app open on my phone. As I add things to my cart, I look on the app to see if there is a coupon for that item. If there is, I can save anywhere from 5% – 25% on the spot! Good deal and super easy!

Another awesome app for saving money is Favado. You can browse the sales from up to 10 different stores, making it easy to find the best store to shop at each week. It will also alert you to any potential coupons you can use….you know, if you’re up for it. 😉

The last app I recommend is actually not for coupons at all! Ibotta is an app that will give you actual money back for your purchases for doing simple things like taking a one-question poll or sending a tweet. It’s really easy to use and there’s no extra work for you to do while you’re at the store juggling a shopping cart and two kids. Just upload your receipts to the app when you get home to earn your cash rebates.

Pantry Challenge

My final tip for saving money without coupons is to have a pantry/freezer challenge! The challenge is to grocery shop as little as possible and only eat what’s already in the pantry/freezer. You can do the challenge for one week or one month, however long you think you can go without shopping!

I always enjoy doing these challenges and usually discover that I have way more food than I even realized! It’s surprisingly fun to get creative and come up with some dishes that we don’t normally eat. You can use websites like allrecipes.com or supercook.com where you can enter in the ingredients you have and it will find recipes for you.

I hope this gave you some ideas for saving money when you don’t feel like it!

What do you do when you experience couponing burnout?

Cyber Monday Online Shopping Tips

Nov 19, 2013

Score great deals from the comfort of your own home! These are great tips for shopping on Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving, and is the online equivalent of Black Friday. Online retailers offer significant discounts in an effort to increase sales and draw in customers who are shopping for the holidays.

If you want to get in on these awesome deals, but don’t want to blow your budget, I have a few helpful tips:

1. Stick to a List

Make a list of everyone you’re shopping for this year, and if possible, add a general idea of what you want to buy that person.  Then when you come across a great deal on an item, you can scan your list to see if you have someone to buy it for.  If you don’t have anyone to buy them for, pass up the deal and wait for a deal on something you are shopping for.

2. Stick to a Budget

It’s so easy to get carried away during the holidays and overspend. Whether you have a per-person budget or an over-all budget, set one and stick to it. Even if the item is an amazing buy, if it breaks your budget, it’s still too expensive.

3. Keep Track

Make a list of everything you purchase, so you don’t accidentally buy for the same person twice, or buy two of the same item. With all the holiday busyness, you’re much more prone to forget things.  Write it down or create a word doc to help you remember.

4. Use Coupon Codes

Always, always, always check for a coupon code before shopping. Even if it’s a store that you think wouldn’t have one! You can use sites like Savings.com to check for coupon codes before you make your purchase.

5. Get Free Shipping

Shipping costs can sometimes kill the deal when shopping online. Thankfully retailers are beginning to realize this and free shipping offers are prevalent. Do a quick search for free shipping codes before you buy and you could save a bundle! Some sites also offer free shipping if you join their mailing list or create an account on their site.

6. Earn Cash Back

It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not! Sites like Ebates will give you a percentage of your purchase back in cash just for shopping through their links.  It’s completely free to join, there are no fees to pay, and you will even get a $5 sign-up bonus after you make your first purchase.

7. Relax and Have Fun

What makes Cyber Monday so much more appealing than Black Friday is that you can shop in your pajamas, snuggled up on the couch with your laptop.  You get the thrill of the hunt without the crazy crowds.  You also have sites like mine – Couponing101.com – to help you dig for the really awesome deals. So, instead of heading out in the cold to search for deals, just sit back, grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and let the deals come to you! 😉

Want to keep up with all the crazy deals?

:: Follow Couponing 101 on Facebook – We’ll be posting everything to Facebook so you can see the newest deals instantly. If you haven’t been seeing our posts in your news feed, follow these instructions to start seeing updates from us. You won’t want to miss anything!

:: Subscribe to our On-Demand Email Newsletter – Perhaps most important of all, be sure to subscribe to our emails. You’ll receive an email within 30 minutes of us posting a deal to give you the best chance of scoring that deal before it sells out.

This post was originally published on November 22, 2010.

10 Tips for Shopping on Black Friday

Nov 11, 2013

10 Tips for Shopping on Black Friday - Be sure to read these tips before you head out shopping!

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is typically considered the “kick-off” to holiday shopping. Stores usually offer deep discounts and open earlier than normal.

Shopping on Black Friday is not for the faint of heart. You need to be prepared to wake up early, stand in long lines, and battle massive crowds. While there is risk of damage to your person via elbow-jabs and people pushing for no reason, what you should really worry about is the damage to your pocketbook.

Black Friday is a great opportunity to save a lot of money on Christmas gifts if you know what you’re doing. Follow these tips to avoid potential pit-falls like overspending and overbuying.

1. Stick to a List.

Make a list of everyone you’re shopping for this year, and if possible, add a general idea of what you want to buy that person.  Then when you come across a great deal on an item, you can scan your list to see if you have someone to buy it for.  If you don’t have anyone to buy it for, pass up the deal and wait for a deal on something you are shopping for.

2. Stick to a Budget.

It’s so easy to get carried away during the holidays and overspend. Whether you have a per-person budget or an over-all budget, set one and stick to it. Even if the item is an amazing buy, if it breaks your budget, it’s still too expensive.

3. Keep Track.

Make a list of everything you purchase, so you don’t accidentally buy for the same person twice, or buy two of the same item. With all the holiday chaos, you’re much more prone to forget things.  Write it down or create a word doc to help you remember.

4. Beware of Peer Pressure.

During Black Friday you’re going to be rushing to get the best deals. You’re also going to assume that everyone else is doing the same thing. You might see a bunch of people rushing and grabbing for an item that you don’t have on your list and be tempted to buy one too. After all, they must be going crazy over it because it’s a great deal! Not true – just because a bunch of people are going after an item doesn’t mean it’s a good deal – especially if it’s an item you don’t need. Stick to your list and don’t let peer pressure get you sidetracked.

5. Research.

The majority of your Black Friday savings is going to come from pre-planning. Yes, you can pop into your nearest store and save a few bucks, but if you’re purchasing big-ticket items, you need to do your research. Read reviews and compare prices to make sure you don’t waste your money on a cheap product just because it appears to be a good deal.

6. Prioritize.

If you’re wanting to buy a specific laptop, you’ll want to go to the store that has it on sale first. The smaller items on your list can wait because they have a smaller savings return. But be careful of items that have a very limited quantity available. If the ad says something like “minimum 5 per store” then you probably won’t want to waste your time on those items. Make a list of the stores you want to visit and organize them by store opening time and priority items.

7. Price Match.

Many stores will price match on Black Friday! There’s no need to go to several stores when you can shop for all your items at one store. Be sure to read your store’s policy carefully, most will only price match identical products.

8. Shop with a Friend.

Teaming up with a friend will not only make shopping more fun, it will save you time! Perhaps your friend could head to the electronics section to get the camera she wants and the DVDs you want, while you head to the toy section to pick up the board games you want and her LEGO sets. It’s a win-win!

9. Be Nice.

Please, please, please don’t be a rude shopper. Let’s all be adults and not push, call names, or snatch items from others. You’ll have a lot more fun if you go out of your way to treat others with kindness than if you let every little annoyance affect your attitude.

10. Shop Online.

Many Black Friday deals will be available online as well, and some will even go on sale on the website before they do in-store. I find shopping at home in my pajamas much more appealing than standing in long lines in the cold and battling other shoppers. You can even wait until Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday. The deals are just as good, if not better! If you plan on taking this route, be sure to read my Cyber Monday Online Shopping Tips.

Do you have any Black Friday shopping tips that you’d like to add?

Ultimate Black Friday Resource! Ad scans, sale previews, online coupon codes, & more!

This post was originally published on November 21, 2011.

Top 10 Extreme Couponing Mistakes

Apr 11, 2013

Top ten extreme couponing mistakes...and how to avoid them.

If you’re new to couponing, you’re probably very eager to get started! Before you do, you may want to prepare for some of these common couponing mistakes before you dive in.

1. Going Overboard

When you first begin couponing, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into the “game.” It is FUN after all! However, I recommend you don’t try to go to 6 stores every week or try to grab every single freebie. Trust me when I say, the deals WILL come around again.

Choose 2-3 of your favorites stores (for instance: 1 drug store, 1 grocery store, and 1 super store) and stick with just those. Also, try to limit your shopping trips to just once per week or only when you are already out and about near that store.

2. Spending Too Much Money

Anyone else see their spending INCREASE when they started couponing? While building up a stockpile could be the reason for it, you might also be buying more than you need. If you don’t need the item (or know someone specifically who does), don’t buy it – even if it’s an amazing deal! It will just clutter your home and drive up your grocery bill.

3. Spending Too Much Time

Spending hours and hours couponing is actually something I do NOT want to do! I try to limit my time couponing as much as possible. While I do enjoy the thrill of a good deal, I have to make sure my priorities are in order and that I’m not neglecting other responsibilities just so I can go grab another free razor.

4. Being Unorganized

Don’t you just hate when you discover a can of something in the back of your pantry that expired a year ago? It probably happens to most families, but with couponers, it is probably even more common. Having a stockpile of items means you have to be careful to rotate your goods (put newer items at the back and bring the older ones to the front) to avoid letting them expire. Wasted food is wasted time and money.

5. Junk Food

One pitfall of couponing is buying lots of junk food that you normally wouldn’t buy. While the coupons for junk food are more common than the coupons for healthy food, it doesn’t mean that’s what you have to buy. Don’t normally buy cookies? Don’t bother clipping the coupon for them!

6. Just Because You Have a Coupon…

This mistake is a doozy, and one of the most common reasons people believe they can’t save money with coupons. Just because you have a coupon, doesn’t mean you have to use it! If you don’t like/need the product, the item isn’t on sale, or the generic brand is cheaper, then you need to put the coupon down and step away slowly.

Please don’t clip all the coupons from the paper and try to use them right then. Hang on to your coupons for the right sale and then make your move.

7. Not Using Stockpile

Stockpiles are pretty to look at but they aren’t meant to be home decor. They are there to be used! Sometimes we work so hard to build them up that it can make us sad to see some of the stockpile being used. Well, that’s what it’s there for. Go ahead and let your husband take a bottle of mouthwash off the shelf. You’ll thank me later.

8. Clearing Shelves

Trying to build your stockpile can be quite a bit of work. It takes time. Sometimes we get in a hurry and want to see a nice supply of shampoo in our closet right now. It can be tempting to clear the shelves of every bottle of Herbal Essences when it goes on sale – and at every store within a 50 mile radius. However, others who shop there are trying to build their stockpile too (or maybe they are out of shampoo and are just needing to pick up a bottle). Take the amount you need but be courteous toward other shoppers and don’t clear the shelves.

9. Trying to Get EVERY Deal

It can be hard to pass up a deal. The savings are fun and you like a pretty stockpile. But remember to ask yourself these questions before you buy: “Does my family or someone I know specifically need it? Do I already have an abundance in my stockpile? Do I have room in my grocery budget to buy it?” Asking these questions first will help you determine whether you need it or if you’re just wanting to grab another great deal just for the thrill.

10. High Expectations

I frequently get emails from people who are so disappointed that they only saved 49% on their grocery bill. Yes, upset about it! While saving 99% is certainly possible, it’s not going to happen on every single shopping trip. It’s important to set realistic savings goals and remember that even saving a $1 here and there is still saving money.

I hope these tips do not discourage you from couponing. I think pretty much every couponer (myself included!) has made one or more of these mistakes! Hopefully by reading this, you can learn from our mistakes and start your couponing journey with realistic expectations.

What do you think? Are these mistakes accurate? Did I forget any?

photo credit: Polycart via photopin cc

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