Ever since we started following Dave Ramsey, we have been tracking our spending in some form or another. I have never put much effort into finding budgeting software that works for us. I have looked into a few, but never found anything that seems to fit exactly what we need. I have a very primitive, hand-written budget, I’m slightly ashamed to say. My husband teases me that with all the technology out there and with my background, I am still writing out our budget and using a copy machine to make one for each month. But it works for us, especially for me since I am solely in charge of financing in our house. I know there are better things out there and one of my goals this year is to actually find something and stick with it. I have heard great things about mint.com and Simple Mom recommends Pear Budget. I can’t personally recommend either, obviously, but they are worth checking out.
One aspect of our budget that I do track is our grocery spending. This includes everything we use in our household, not just food. All drug store items (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc), toilet paper, paper towels, you get the drift. I also use to do this by hand, who knows why? I like to make things difficult. My best friend sent me this AMAZING Excel spreadsheet created by Angela at The Coupon Project. I insist you check it out! It tracks everything, total before coupons, total discounts, rebates and coupons used. You can enter in your monthly budget and it will deduct each transaction for you, both with and without rebates. This has been so helpful for me to see everything in one place. For those of you that have not been tracking, this will be a very helpful tool for you to see where your money is going and possibly help you lower your grocery budget.
Whatever format you decide to do, tracking your spending, even over a couple of months, will help you determine if your budget is working for your family. It will help you learn where your money is going and how you can make it work better for you. If you do decide to foray into couponing and deal shopping, it will help you see how beneficial it can be. Good luck!