I need an app to scan my grocery receipts to help track spending
October 31, 2017 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I've seen previous questions, but the answer before was OneReceipt, and that went under.

We have seen a major uptick in our grocery spending, and are having trouble pinpointing the reason.

I shop at no fewer than four stores, a CSA and Amazon, and while I know there is nothing that can seamlessly integrate all of that, it would be really nice to just scan my receipts and have the costs compared. Does such a thing exist? I wouldn't mind paying for the service. I've downloaded a couple of Excel spreadsheets but I really don't have the time to get to that level of data nerdiness.

I've seen Mint and YNAB suggested, but neither of those offer the level of detail I am after.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to compare what I have spent on similar items at different stores, as well as a month-by-month comparison of grocery spending/habits.
posted by msali to Shopping (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Not enough detail on items on receipt to be able to do what you want automatically without a lot of errors.
I started using memento. I'm building up a database of things we buy. Each item can have its cost at multiple stores. There is a field for cost per unit, so different size packages can be compaired.
I was going to look for an existing app, but after trying a few and getting frustrated with how long it was taking, making it myself in memento was just faster/less stressful.
posted by Sophont at 8:28 PM on October 31, 2017

I don't believe it exists. Most people use mint, YNAB, and develop rules of thumb in their heads.

On the topic of scanning receipts though, I do use ibotta. It's a rebate app - trying to get you to buy things you don't normally buy, but it occasionally has nice bonuses and stuff.
posted by bbqturtle at 5:39 AM on November 1, 2017

As far as I know, there is no program that can do this. If there was, I would use it in a second. I keep a large Excel document to do this tracking and it is painstaking. But I don't think there is any simple way to do it, for two reasons.

Not enough information on receipts - whatever system you would need would have to have access to the store inventory system. Take a look at your receipts, the item name is abbreviated substantially on most, right? How is the program supposed to know what item"Cereal multigrain sqrs orgn" is? And how does it know it is the same thing as this?

Different brands, different units. In one store you might buy olive oil by the bottle (e.g. "5.99 each") and in another you might buy it in bulk (e.g. "8.65 per pound"). You would have to convert your items to the same unit, like finding common denominators, in order to properly compare. The first bottle, if it is 25.4 oz, is .23 cents per oz. But I still have a problem in that how many ounces is in a pound of olive oil? ...it gets nerdy very fast. If you only buy prepackaged foods and always in exactly the same brands, it won't be quite so tricky, but it's still going to be a job. Since you said you have a CSA, that complicates things a lot.

I would recommend you just take out your receipts and look them over carefully. How many times are you going to the store per month? Are you buying different items? Have prices gone up on the same items? Are you actually using all of the food, or is more of it going to compost? Has your menu planning changed? Etc.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2017

For iOS, I use Intellilist, which lets you do pricing for multiple stores. You do have to enter it manually, which is a pain until you build up the lists of what you use often, but once you do it'll give you a cart total for whatever store you have a cart in, and you can see how it shifts as you add things.

It's also pretty good with variable sizes (I mostly don't bother). I do a couple of hacks to avoid really annoying data entry: my Trader Joe's shopping list usually has a couple of frozen meals on it as backup, but I pick up different ones depending on my mood that day, so I have a default entry for frozen meals with the price set at the high point of what I'm likely to buy for that, and just add however many I get to the list. It means the cart total is a little off, but it's too high, which makes it easier to stay on budget.
posted by modernhypatia at 3:25 PM on November 1, 2017

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