The First Three Weeks on Cash-Only Budget

Time for a cash budget. (Photo credit: 401K)

It’s been a long time coming to use cash for food, gas, clothing, and entertainment. I’ve been religiously watching Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s show, “Till Debt Do Us Part,” and eyeing those money jars. It just makes sense. But, I never did anything about it.

But one day, I realized my grocery budget was creeping upward, even with couponing. What the heck was I doing wrong? Using a debit card and not using a solid budget–that’s what I was doing wrong.

I drew up a serious budget (much harder than it sounds, it takes t-i-m-e, but it’s essential). In my budget–$75 cash for groceries, $25 a week cash for gas in my car (my husband uses more, but I work from home), $20 miscellaneous or “blow money,” per Dave Ramsey. That’s only the cash part of the budget.

I didn’t use jars, but I did use basic envelopes, which proved too cumbersome as I went through my week.  I ended up labeling two pockets of my wallet. One pocket says “Gas” and the other says “Groceries” and that’s where I keep the money.

Some highlights:

1. Week One: I was filmed for Channel 12 News (not aired as of yet) on a shopping trip at Stop & Shop in Fairfield–it was an extra shopping trip that week and I shelled out an extra $54.00. To balance the budget, I decided to reduce my grocery budget for two weeks.

2. Week Two: Did relatively well, was able to buy about four pounds of expensive organic ground beef because I used some Catalina coupons from ShopRite thanks to some great deals I put together. By week’s end, I spent an extra $10 at Whole Foods when I found a couple of extra deals. It’s only $10, you say, but you know how the psychology on this works … “it’s ONLY $10….” turns into “it’s ONLY $20 and so on…” But, it’s like a diet, you make peace with yourself and get back on the program.

3. Week Three: So, it’s now Saturday, one day into my third week of cash only, and I have spent my reduced cash budget. But, we have plenty of food and will only need some fruit and veggies–but it’s extra money.

But so far, it’s great, I love it, and I see where my money goes and it gives me great hope. I spent $200 so far in three weeks–not too terrible in an affluent town like Fairfield.

Stay tuned.

~Marilyn from TFF


3 thoughts on “The First Three Weeks on Cash-Only Budget

  1. Marilyn
    To clarify, while the once a month treck to Aldi’s is some distance away, I am driving a 42 mpg vehicle to do so. : ) My weekly gas expense is approx $30/week and I do commute to work full-time as well as schlep kids to appointments/commitments. Once I am finished at Aldi’s, the return trip takes me right by Shoprite, S & S, Xpect etc so I consider them in my “shopping loop.” I am very conscientious about gas consumption. I live in a town with 1 small and $$ store, even if I spend a few dollars to drive out of town to shop (bundling errands in the process), I come out way ahead.

  2. Interesting concept, and great if you find that eventually it will work for you. I wonder what you had been doing with your grocery receipts before you started this system. Did you just shop for the week and stick the receipts somewhere, only to tally them up at the end of the month (and that’s when reality struck regarding how much you were actually spending)? I tally my receipts everytime I go shopping. I always know, for instance, exactly how much I’ve spent on groceries for the month. When I see a sale flyer, I have this information in mind (or I can easily look it up). I use this information in deciding if I can afford that great deal or not.
    I also shop differently than most. The last Saturday of the month, I hit Aldi’s for basic pantry stock up goods, buying enough for the entire month. I then combine this trip (as it’s some distance away) with a trip to either Shoprite, or Stop and Shop (sometimes both, depending on specials) and usually a trip at Xpect for cleaning,personal care and produce. Staying OUT of the stores leads to less expenditure on average, too. I am disciplined enough to go to a store and just get X if needed, and if that trip is not going out of my way/i’ll drive right past anyway or I’ll send Dh if he’ll be near the store in question. Besides just reviewing grocery shopping, I strongly encourage weekly, bimonthly if not monthly dinner menu planning, incorporating what is on hand, bought at great prices. It has saved us a ton of money and gets those lurkers like the peach tea out of the cabinet, rotates your stocks. Great also that you are making more yourself-that’s another huge money saver.

    1. Carol, did you see the post I wrote on your blog?! It’s getting some nice hits!~Marilyn

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