In the past Irish and I (okay, mostly Irish) have tossed around the idea of doing a strictly cash budget when it comes to groceries. Each time he brought up the subject I wasn't too excited, not because I didn't think we could do it, but I'm all about the points! With our MC we earn points, which in turn can give us free groceries. My only hang up was loosing out on those points.
It was about the middle of January when Irish finally 'put his foot down' and said that this is what we are going to do. I rolled my eyes, and almost felt like telling him to start doing the grocery shopping, BUT as a good & supportive wife (like I try to be) I said OK. We discussed what we thought would be a reasonable weekly amount for our family, and withdrew that amount.
So here I am, as I drop him off at work, with an envelope 'full' of cash. Off to the grocery store I went. I decided the best way to 'manage' the money would be to write each item I am putting in my cart down on a piece of paper, along with it's price, if it's a weigh-able item...then I would have to weigh it and figure out how much it cost. After all, how am I suppose to know what is in my cart and what my bill is going to be when I get up to the cashier. That was/is my biggest fear of paying with cash, not knowing my total...and then coming up short, then having to ask the cashier to remove items. I could have just kept a running total in my head, but with this prego brain I've got going on, and two little ones in the cart...it was best that I wrote it down!
Before we made the switch from plastic to paper (MC to cash) I would have never described us as people who just bought what ever, or purchased items that we didn't really need. Yes there were times that one of the kids would say "Oh Mom, look at this" or "Could we get _____ please". Every once in a while I would 'indulge', because everyone needs a treat now and then. Plus I didn't always want to be saying NO to my kids.
When you are buying with plastic, it's SO easy to over spend, because 'money isn't an issue'.
I can not tell you the freedom (...is that the right word?) I felt when buying with cash. I knew exactly what was in my cart, there was no surprise at the total when I got to the till & to be able to pay in full right then and there, knowing we didn't owe the MC company for the food we just bought, was AMAZING!
It almost feels like a game, I feel like such a winner when I purchase everything we need for the week (I like to plan my meals a week in advance, so that I know all the ingredients I will need, thus resulting in one weekly grocery trip) and come out UNDER budget! This has happened both times I've gone so far since starting our cash budget. The last time, which was our last shopping trip for the month, we had a nice little amount left over. So I 'treated' us by going to Costco and buying some items that we've been out of for a while, but use on an almost daily basis...plus we had company coming that weekend, so I wanted to be all stocked up! You know what?? I even have $7.50 left after shopping at Costco!! I was so pleased with my self!
In the end, I would recommend doing a cash budget if you are looking for some way to save some money. In the two trips I've taken, I've noticed that we are now spending on average $30 less a week in groceries. Now keep in mind that I haven't had to replace the Tide, or buy more chicken, which are big ticket items, but I'm still fairly confident in my self that I can remain on budget! (we also decided that diapers should not be included in our grocery budget, and have a different amount set aside for those)
Ooh and the bonus of it all, is that with the new program our store has come out with (we shop at Superstore, and they now have their PC Plus Points system), I can STILL earn points on the items I purchase (that have been selected for plus points) even when I pay with cash!! I don't get my points for bringing my own bags...but at least I'm getting points! Yay, happy day!!