Food & Drink

Saving Centsably: Track your spending now to save in 2015

Don’t look now, but 2015 is just around the corner. Before you know it, you will be making New Year’s resolutions, and at least one of those resolutions will involve saving money.

Do you know that the majority of people who attend my coupon workshops or talk to me about couponing say things like, “I have no idea what my groceries cost,” or, “How do you know what you pay each month?” or “How would I know how much chicken my family uses in a month?”

Here’s my advice: Instead of waiting until January to ask yourself those questions, begin compiling those statistics now. Pay attention this week -- and for the next three weeks -- to what you are spending on groceries. During December, keep a journal or calendar of what your family eats.

Are you buying the same meats over and over? If so, make a goal in 2015 to stay stocked up on that meat when it is on sale. The truth is, you probably run to the store for that meat regularly -- paying whatever the asking price is at the store, at the time. No more of that! Make a plan that in 2015 you will refuse to pay full price for meats. You can fulfill that goal by looking for meats that are close to their expiration dates -- I find them at a variety of stores.

Look into Zaycon Foods; they will be offering all sorts of meats during 2015. I have purchased their bacon, beef and chicken and their prices are typically less than the grocery store -- sometimes way less. Plus, you’ll have a stockpile of 20 to 40 pounds of chicken or beef put away for any time you need it.

As you look through the month of December and your buying and cooking habits, examine whether you are frequently running out of items. Are you well-stocked on toiletries or is someone continuously needing toothpaste, shaving cream or shampoo? All of these toiletry items are budget-busters when you have to go to the grocery store or the drug store to purchase them out of necessity.

Throughout this month, pay special attention to how much of each of these items you use. These items are the type of things that our family keeps stockpiled at all times. Very rarely do we run out of any of these items anymore. We simply buy them when they are on sale and then combine a coupon with the sale. We do not pay much for these items and because we stay stocked up, we very rarely feel the pressure of needing to buy them at full price.

While these are just a few of the spending and buying habit patterns I would suggest you examine in December, I think it is important that you start here -- especially if you plan to set a savings goal for 2015.

I do know that there is no way you simply wake up Jan. 1 and expect that your spending habits will automatically change. You know how people say that those who “fail to plan” are actually “planning to fail?” I absolutely believe this statement to be true. A year from now, in December 2015, you will be thankful for the time you spent preparing a budget, examining your spending habits from 2014 and deciding the ways in which 2015 will be different.

You can do it! There are so many ways to decrease your spending and make your ends meet just a little more easily. Use your Savings Sense and make a plan for 2015, starting now!

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