At the cash register vs. budget categories

Scenario: I buy groceries ("Grocery" category) and kitty litter ("Pet supplies") at the same store sometimes. I find it annoying and not a good use of my time to split up my bill (and figure out sales tax) once I'm home. So I've started ringing up things separately. Any other clever ideas?

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  • The reality is it probably takes more time to ring it up separately (which is not a good use of your time, the cashier's time, or the people waiting-in-line-behind-you's time.  Just put the smaller group of items either at the front or end of the belt so they are grouped on the receipt.

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      • DoBee
      • Dobee
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Yes... I get all that. And I usually shop at weird times when there's not much of a line if any. The idea of entering my spending in my phone before I get back into the car appeals greatly to me. I'm debating now if I just want to flatten some categories based on shopping locations. Knowing that I'm going to lose some visibility. But then, if loss of visibility becomes a problem, I could decide to break it out later. Hmmm...

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      DoBee 

      How about adding a flag to those entries on the fly, a reminder to split it out later at home for appropriate  category breakdown. I have ritualized the process of entry at home in the evening (or just review if there is nothing to update). I now associate updating my budget with a sense of satisfied accomplishment, so it's something I look forward to doing. When I'm away from home, my evening routine feels incomplete.

      Like 1
    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    To simplify my life, I categories multiple things as groceries:  diapers, toilet paper, pet food, pet supplies, Costco membership.  I don't find that it does me any extra help by subdividing those things when I often buy them at the same store.

    Like 2
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view
      eloquentz said:
      I don't find that it does me any extra help by subdividing those things when I often buy them at the same store.

       Yeah, I tend to agree with this for the most part, assuming the information you are combining wasn't going to be actionable individually. Like trying to control your food purchases. It's unlikely the pet supplies purchase habits will change, other than inflationary price increases.

      Our grocery category includes all consumables typically purchased while at a grocery store. However we do have other categories that we may buy on occasion at a grocery store, such as for durables (replacing a kitchen utensil) or over the counter medical costs, or buying a gift card.

      On the other hand we do a lot of grocery shopping at Target, and when we're there we may be lots of other things as well. But at least Target breaks out the receipt into department categories making it easier to separate.

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      • eloquentz
      • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
      • eloquentz
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Well, there are times that I do separate.  Christmas gifts are one that come to mind as I had money set aside for that.  But for the most part, my budget categories are fairly simple.

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  • Cat food and cleaning supplies and anything normally bought at the grocery store comes out of the grocery budget for me.

    Like 1
  • Thanks for everyone's real life observations.... This exercise has been helpful. It made think through that I'm not trying to analyze or change spending behavior in these categories so I really don't need to break them out. Ultimately, I'm aiming to just see how much I spend annually for retirement planning purposes. So combining these categories will be sufficient and encourage my laziness in not breaking out receipts ;-) 

    Like 1
  • For me I just add up all the items (Grocery, Pet Supplies) and whatever is left over the split the tax down the middle.  It's not worth it to me to figure out the exact tax for each category.  Over the years I got tired of splitting things and just stopped caring about that and just include it all in one unless it is maybe a gift or something.

    Example (Made the math simple):

    Target - $100 (Groceries, Pet Supplies, Home Maintenance, Auto Maintenance)

    1. Groceries
      • $40
    2. Pet Supplies
      • $20
    3. Home Maintenance
      • $25
    4. Auto Maintenance
      • $11

    This comes out to $96 and say $4 tax.  I would just put an extra dollar into each category.  I know it never comes out this even and if there is an extra penny I just put it into one of the categories.  I look at it this way I spent the money, doesn't matter which category to me.

    Like 2
  • I do separate a few things but try not to be too granular. I separate only wine and pet expenses. Anything else I buy at the grocery store is groceries. If we're doing a combination shopping trip at Wal-Mart, I separate groceries from everything else. It's not hard to add it up later at home.

    Like 1
  • I pull my money out as cash and enter it into YNAB as a split category transaction with how much cash goes to which category.  i.e. Cash withdrawal 300$ split into:  Food: 200, pets: 40, household items:  50, gas: 20, medical: 40 home maintenance: 50, etc.  The money is then accounted for in my budget based on my plans for the week and I put the actual cash into my wallet with areas for each of those categories.  I then know what I have to spend, in cash, while at the store.  I do a combination of cash envelope and electronic envelope (YNAB), but I only spend cash on food, pets, gas, household goods, and medicine/supplements, otherwise I'll overspend and need to constantly adjust my categories.  I never could stick to the actual budget I'd planned because it was too easy to overspend in those categories and just "roll with the punches".

    Like 1
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