My Cash-Only Challenge Diary – Start of April 2012

Cash may be king, but my monthly budget sheet rules my life. That’s a good thing–it’s like having an accountant by your side at all times.

Here’s how my cash-only challenge has been going:

Gas: Using cash for gas is great. And that’s because there’s motivation to use cash versus debit. You get a .10 cent discount per gallon around here when you use cash. If I go to Shell, use cash, and have gas points from Stop & Shop, then it’s a great deal and using cash is enough of an incentive. I’ve been sticking to about $25 to $35 a week on gas once a week, even when I deviate from around-town driving (which of course is worse). (By the way, a post on hypermiling is coming….)

(Photo credit: Tax Credits)

The grocery store: For a few weeks I had limited my cash budget for groceries to $50. That was just awful and not possible for us. So, I upped it to $75 which was better. But $100 a week for food is the magic number for my family. I ended up using my debit card for additional groceries when my budget was $75 and under. But with $100 in cash in my wallet, it works out great and I do not feel the need at all to raise my grocery budget again. Since I started my cash-only challenge, we have not had any organic meat in our freezer from the farm where we have a share of a cow, and I’ve had to (reluctantly) buy organic meat or chicken from the store. But I’ve greatly reduced the amount of meat/poultry we eat to once or twice a week (we used to eat it frequently). By reducing our meat/poultry intake, and make creative dishes using beans, vegetables, and pasta, it’s easy to stick to the $100 mark every week.

My budget: Every month, I write up a new budget, and just achieving this act helps me to realize how much I should spend on groceries, which is how I arrived at the $100 a week mark. The magic of having a budget to refer to is invaluable. I also write down every single grocery receipt on my budget sheet so I can keep track all week on what I’m spending regardless of what’s in my wallet.

What I’m learning is that my budget sheet is King. If I did not have a budget sheet, but carried cash, I think I’d just go get cash out of the ATM once it was gone! But because I know what’s coming in, what’s going out, where it’s going, and it’s all on this magical budget sheet, the sheet itself holds me accountable; I’d be lost without my budget sheet.

I’ll report in again in a few weeks.

~Marilyn, TFF


5 thoughts on “My Cash-Only Challenge Diary – Start of April 2012

  1. Hi there! Love this. Thanks for sharing. Is it possible to use and link your blog on my facebook page?. Helping friends declare War On Debt.

      1. Thank you so much! Please let me know if I don’t do something correctly. I am new at this and want to give credit where credit is due. – Barbara

  2. I have used my debit card as the main ‘go to’ method of payment for so long. Cash is always the last choice. You certainly make a good point for cash because it is a lot easier to specifically track how much you are spending. Keep sharing this post because in this credit happy society we may have to return to cash only one day.

    1. I should also mention that I felt as though my kids didn’t even know what cash was!! They certainly knew what a debit card looked like, but they thought it was a credit card. I realized that my kids might not know how to use cash at a store if they didn’t see me doing more of paying with cash! It actually makes me feel better paying in cash in front of my kids when they are with me at the grocery store. Thanks so much for writing in!! ~Marilyn, TFF

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