A number of years ago I wrote a post about why we don’t use cash and use a debit card instead. Then my husband began a battle with depression and took almost a month off work while he got the help he needed and leveled back out again. We had enough coming in from short-term disability to pay for our bills (barely) but there wasn’t enough left for groceries. Between what I had left from our lumberjack competition “running money” and from selling things we didn’t need, I was able to buy our groceries for those weeks with cash.
After he began working again, I still kept doing cash for groceries. It may seem odd since I was so adamant about not using cash. However, I learned something while having to do cash for groceries. Keep reading to find out what that was.
I learned that, even though I thought I had been staying on budget fairly well, I was going over far more often than I even realized. I kept justifying it with saying things like, “Oh, well, we’re low on beef and there was a bunch marked down.” It’s fine to go over once in awhile for these things but it was happening far too often. With cash, I have a hard and fast limit. I take out $125/week for groceries/household items. Before I leave for shopping, I put that $125 in my wallet. Most the time, since using cash, I come in at $110 or under. That means I have leftover cash. That leftover cash is set aside for those weeks I do find a great deal on something and want to stock up.
I used to spend cash if I had it. I was terrible at saving it. It felt like “extra” money much of the time. I also found it harder to track than using my debit card. Now I use the Every Dollar app and website to track all our spending, cash and debit purchases. I also use the cash envelope “wallet” we got when we took Finacial Peace University. That keeps the cash out of my regular wallet and separated into categories (we’re also using cash for clothing and our weekly Sunday morning coffee date). The only cash that is in my wallet is the money I’m going to be using that day during grocery shopping at a $10 bill I keep in my wallet for if I need a gallon of milk, toilet paper, etc. before the next grocery shopping day.
This sounds so backward. However, cash for groceries has been really freeing for me. Something about having the actual cash in hand has made making it stretch so much more fun. It also has been great as that money is only for groceries. That means, when I have leftover sitting in the grocery envelope and a great sale comes along, there is zero guilt about really stocking up. This allows me to stock up on a great sale without having to skimp on something else.
I honestly can’t believe I ever used to have a hard time using cash for groceries and other purchases. The hard limit really does help save money and keep me on task with finding the best deals I can. I do still use my debit card for most purchases, but for groceries, our weekly coffee date, and most clothing, cash has become the best choice. If you’re struggling to stay on budget with your groceries, I highly suggest doing cash for a month and see if you are doing better. Cash for groceries can really make a difference.