Annual Grocery Expenditure
Am I right in assuming if I want to see my annual grocery bill it has to be in it's own category? I currently have it under household expenses.
Btw I love reading all the Q&A's from others, I learn things I had never thought of before.
Plus YNAB has helped with the change in our money mindset. (Amazon even published my book about that recently)
It's basically anything that you want to have specific visibility of. In over 10 years my "Food" category has expanded based on what I want to evaluate (I've still managed to leave out a Candy subcategory, but I do track Gum...). I've always separated out household items like paper goods, light bulbs, batteries, etc. In addition to Groceries, I have Restaurants, Vitamins & Supplements, Coffee, and "Diet" for protein drinks, bars, or anything I suddenly decide will make me fitter in the new year :).
But this is exactly why it helps most people to break it out. Suddenly you're like, woah, how much are we spending on all this pizza?? And then the report is totally opaque. Start itemizing bit by bit going forward, it really doesn't take a ton of time holding one Costco receipt.
Here's how I break down these kind of categories in case it gives anyone ideas...
- Baking Ingredients
- Groceries (Raw non-baking)
Health and Well Being (Group)
- Personal Care (such as shampoo)
- Vitamins and Supplements
There's a lot of baking in my house, and I wanted to see how much home baking costs vs spending on snacks.
Raw groceries are unprepared items such as produce, meats, spices, milk etc.
I put "Cleaning Supplies" and "Cookware Consumables" such as plastic wrap in my "Housing Expense" group which also includes rent. I just view them as things to run a home.
So if I go to Walmart and spend across all these categories, which I always seem to, I do a "Split" transaction across multiple categories.
Hopefully at the end of the year I'll be able to create a case to quit spending money on snacks. It's amazing how snacks sneak into the grocery bill. I quickly noticed how expensive vitamins and supplements are now too, so have already considered taking them every second day to reduce that expense.
These are the categories that I needed to hunt for things where I might need a behavior change in my spending, yours will probably be different.
I've always had a Food Master category with only two sub categories: Groceries and Restaurants. Everything I buy at a grocery store or Costco (mostly) goes under Groceries. I prefer less work (splits) and more generality versus more categories which are more specific. I don't need the breakdown. Works for me.
Violet Panther said:
it's just deciding what I want to be able to easily see the annual spending.
That really is 100% it. And as other posters said, how many people who are in the household might influence it. Like, the reason I started separating "Diet Food" was because if I had to sit everyone down at the table to "talk about these crazy grocery bills" I don't want to harangue everyone else over my own stuff.
And conversely, there can be things you just DON'T want to see... I think that's okay. I have some potentially expensive hobbies, and impulse iTunes/gaming purchases that I really don't want to have to look at whenever I look at reports. It's all dumped in my own rec category, and if I have to tighten it up, I tighten it up. No need to constantly remind myself how much money I spent on Gems in a tap tap tap game :).
We used to break groceries and "household" supplies out into distinct categories. Groceries being food purchased for consumption in the home, and household being cleaning supplies, vitamins/OTC medicine, cosmetics... that sort of thing. We also have an "Eating out" category, a "Snacks" category (which pretty much doesn't get used,, so we'll probably get rid of that one.) and an "Ice Cream" category, for when the temp is hot and the kids are begging to go to Graeter's.
A few months ago, we decided to combine the Grocery and Household categories. We also had a separate Costco category, and combined that into groceries also (except when we'd buy batteries, those went into split category for household)
Anyway, grocery category jumped significantly, and we lost some of the valuable (to us) visibility into what type of purchases they were, and my wife (who does most of the grocery/household shopping) started to lose track of how much was left, and if she'd be able to purchase "household" stuff, and still have money left over for groceries.
Long story short, the experiment is ending this month, and starting in January, we're bringing back the household category, and funding it properly. So we'll be able to see how much is left for food and how much we've got for household.
Just one perspective. I know some people don't care about splitting it, but for us it works better.
started to lose track of how much was left, and if she'd be able to purchase "household" stuff, and still have money left over for groceries.
yes, this is similar to what I was experiencing before using YNAB. The only way I could tell you how much food was costing us was by looking at our Walmart or Superstore bank transactions. But it was contaminated with other types of purchases since these are basically department stores with a grocery section. When I went to look up what the average household spends on groceries compared to us, the only number we had looked like we ate like royalty compared to everyone else. I kept wanting to reduce our grocery bill, but it never worked because I didn't have the data for insight.
Doing the split turned me off (at first). It was extra work. I actually thought to myself I'd be paying for YNAB but have to sit here and be an accountant? But I found for each bit of split work you do, you get some good visibility into what you're really spending on. It only works if you use categories meaningful to your situation though. After doing it for a while now, I can split very quickly.
Slate Blue Wildebeest As I just mentioned above, splitting can actually be a RELIEF, when a $400 Costco charge becomes all budgeted expenses. Our supermarket has a system where all register receipts end up in an online portal, so I don't even have to chase anyone down anymore for them, or worry about losing them. If I fall behind I just log in and download the last few.
FWIW, I had friends who just made categories like "Amazon" "Costco" "Target" and uh, their situation never improved...