We all know saving money and budgeting are not exciting things we do when we want to have fun. But unfortunately, some of us do not get the option to NOT do these things as life gets hard and money gets tight. I started to be better with saving money and budgeting overall, but I have certainly struggled to stay dedicated to physically recording the amount of money spent and saved in a month. However, when you have some people around you motivating you to live a moderate, but active life, you’re good to go! In my case, one of the closest people in my life happens to be an accountant and a self-proclaimed master in all things money-recording. Miroslav Getov, CPA is a senior assistant auditor at Deloitte & Touche LLP in Houston. He was kind enough to answer some questions and provide some tips on budgeting and his grocery shopping routine. Read on below for some Q & A!
MT: How does your job as an accountant help you get better with budgeting?
MG: I think what helps more is my education with accounting and finance which led both to my job in accounting and my overall attention or higher emphasis in budgeting and marking my expenses. To be a good accountant, you have to have this innate ability to love numbers and think about ways to incorporate them on a daily basis.
MT: Right, of course! Fortunately for you, numbers are everywhere we look. How can lay people or non-accountants be as good or dedicated as you in budgeting for various needs in their lives?
MG: First you have to come up with a plan. You have to come up with a number. In my opinion, you should know how much you need to spend in general. I come up with a yearly budget of all my expenses, for instance, rent, insurance, everything I spend and a part of that is food. The way I budget food is on a weekly basis. I have a total weekly budget of $100 and that goes for groceries and eating out at restaurants. I would say the ratio is about 60:40, 60 being groceries and eating out being the latter. I make two or three trips a week to grocery store which is frequent because I like to keep my food and produce fresh, for example when I buy vegetables, I want them to stay fresh and not wilt or get rotten. I guess it’s a good idea to have a few different low cost options especially when you’re being cost conscious.
MT: Now, let’s talk about grocery shopping specifically. How can people control their cost of groceries? Make sure they don’t go over budget but keep it fresh and frugal.
MG: If you have the time, make more frequent trips and it won’t be that much of an extra cost or pollute that much if it’s close to you. You know, if it’s a 5-min drive, you can make a trip every 2, 3 days. Frequent trips might be better for you and better for your wallet because the produce stays fresh and you won’t spend that much money at each trip. Let’s say I buy 12 apples. I know that at least 4 of them are going to waste because at some point I will get tired with them. As far as vegetables and fruits go, I have a short attention span. And I don’t want to throw them out; that’s how waste happens. Make smaller, more frequent trips and buy fresher produce.
MT: What are some of the tactics you use for keeping record of the money you spent?
MG: Well for starters, whenever I shop for groceries, I do the math in my head, you know, as I pick the things I want in the shopping cart. That way, I’m able to keep track of the amount I’ll be spending right then and there. Plus, it’s always good to be alert when the cashier mistakenly counts an item twice instead of just once. The one thing I’ve been doing diligently – and most people would not – is I keep the receipts for a day or two just until I record them on an Excel spreadsheet. Honestly speaking, that’s the most important way, or the only way, you can keep track of your money spent and then do the budget for the next weeks.