Data excites me. I love to slice, dice, analyze and everything else to the data to find information. Sometimes in one of the iterations of analysis, there may be a huge “AHA” moment. I didn't exactly have one of those moments this year as I looked at the 2010 Savings Results, but I was truly fascinated with what I found.
As you can see, my average savings this year was way less than my 2008 Savings and 2009 Savings. But, taking a closer look at the data, I found some pretty interesting stuff. Or, interesting to me anyway (I tell ya, it doesn't take much!). But, I had to look at the previous two years' data to see it. Here's a snapshot:
Do you see it? Sure, it's not a surprise to see that my average monthly spend is consistent with the previous . Also, as I dug into the data even more, I can really see the sales cycles and promotional trends. In the Savings Tracking Download, there is a column to enter any notes on that trip. While I knew the P&G promotion was due to come back, the previous years notes told me the weeks the promotion would likely come. And, guess what's back these next two weeks?!
Since I tracked each receipt, I also just counted each one as a shopping visit (even though some would be combined at the same store on different receipts, it was easier to do that way). With that data, I also see that I have shopped 30% less this year than in 2008. However, I had a savings average of 30% more in 2008 as a result of shopping more.
While I couldn't make a sweeping generalization and state that is the case for everyone. At least the effort I did put forth in utilizing a shopping strategy and plan was yielding the same results.
It's also not a big surprise that I had a greater value in overall products and saved a lot more by shopping more frequently. You can get the deals every week to fill-in for menus, or even replenish stock and that helps to save on your budget. While frequency does matter when it comes to saving, it's good to know that any amount of saving is possible when life requires more…and it did for me this year.
The so what of it…??
Well, since it's our spending, and I'm spending most of it :) this didn't show me anything I didn't already know with regards to our grocery spending. The data I really wish I had to do a comparative review would be our spending on dining out. Our 2010 dining out spending was likely far greater than in 2008. I don't have all the data from statements to pull that and look at it. My husband pointed that one out – go figure:)
In all honesty, he's right too (don't tell him ;). Basically from the time we returned from the DR until now, I haven't been cooking nearly as much to need greater amounts of groceries. I'm going to get better in 2011, even my kids are encouraging that one!
But, even without the 5-day a week home-cooked meals, we still needed to keep clean teeth and pleasantly smelling, right? Hygiene, laundry, diapers, formula, etc were still purchased within the results above. Those items can be a huge budget buster too. If anyone does just one thing (or maybe two) to focus on while couponing, any effort to save on those items would help quite a bit. Try other brands and see if you find one that you like better that might offer more generous coupons even. You can't hurt to try!
If you couldn't tell, this year my biggest challenge was sticking to the menu plan. That really does help with savings in the budget and preventing grabbing things on the go. Also, I only shopped at the drugstores a total of 8 times! And, I know for a fact even a few of those times I did earn rewards I never made it back in to use them so I wasn't using my effective Drugstore Shopping Tips (no surprise given some of what I shared in my 2010 Reflect post). But, there is a new Walgreens opening near our son's pre-school. I already have a plan to visit it bright and early after I drop him off, at least twice a month.
And, that's my year. Nothing impressive or extreme. I'm sorry! I believe in moderation and realism in everything so while I did have a super awesome 2008, God also knew our family needed that extra cash flow for Andon's surgery. I am going to focus on doing better with meal planning and shopping to take advantage of more sales this upcoming year.
I'll be back next week to share specific 2011 Personal Goals. Start thinking of yours as well, I'd love to see if we have some similar ones and can encourage one another in our successes and our misses! :)
Did you track your savings this year? How did you do?
What were your biggest challenges? Do you remember the best deal you got?
If you want to track your spending this year like I have for the past three years, the Savings Tracking Tool is available for you to download for FREE! I created this document two years ago and it's what I've been using all along.
I tweaked the file a bit last year and finally updated the site's version. You can start 2011 with a fresh look at your savings too (and a fancy pie chart like mine above)! Leave me a comment if you have questions on it!