When it Comes to Expenses, Cash is King

So my husband and I have put ourselves on an extremely strict budget. We were and still are keeping our grocery bill under $50. *applause* Thank you, thank you! Sometimes it goes a little over but that’s okay, at least we are sticking to a budget. We have cut back on going out to eat, out for fun, and any extra expenses that we bought, but didn’t otherwise need have been extremely limited.

The whole point of this budget is to keep ourselves in check. My husband is very good at creating Excel sheets, so he made us a nice colorful budget plan that is hanging perfectly on our fridge. We want so desperately to visit Europe, but with Hubby’s medical bills rolling in and with the amount of student loans that need to be paid off, we figured it was time to start cracking down on our spending if we ever wanted to travel.

Kevin came up with this idea of using cash instead of debit cards. The moment he presented me with the idea I immediately felt myself shutting down. I hate cash. I hate the idea of it. I hate the fact that if somebody stole my purse, my cash would be gone. Like GONE, GONE. At least if somebody stole my card, I could cancel it and get a new one as if it was no big deal. Nevertheless, Kevin was persistent in that we try using this system of cash, so I reluctantly put my walls down and agreed to try it.

Let me tell you, it’s been the best decision yet! We have been on what I like to call, a card diet.” 


So how does this “card diet” work?

Every Friday when we get paid, we will take our happy-little-selves down to the bank so we can deposit our paychecks that we worked oh so hard for. We each give ourselves $25 each to have in our wallet as a means of “spending money.” Our spending money is used for things we want but do not necessarily need. For example: If we want to go out to eat for lunch or dinner, new clothing, video games, basically anything we want has to come out of our spending money. What if we want something worth more than $25? Never fear, as whatever is left over from our spending budget rolls over into the next week’s $25. Make sense?

I get $60 a week in cash for groceries as well and just like our spending money, whatever is left over will roll over into next week’s budget. It works out really well. This week I only used $33 instead of $50 for groceries, but next week I’ll need to stock up on some extra things like soap, shampoo, some extra toiletries and hair products. Therefore, I might end up spending closer to $70 or $80 but that’s okay because I’ll have extra cash left over from last week.  After a month or two, we will deposit whatever extra cash we have (if any) and put it directly into savings.

This has helped us tremendously as it makes us think more about buying something we don’t need, because once you have used all your cash, it’s gone. Whereas when we using our bank card for anything and everything, we lost track of our miscellaneous purchases. Now our debit cards are only used for emergencies. After the bills get paid, a chunk of our income goes straight into savings, and FINALLY, another part is going into a travel fund.

It’s amazing what happens when you’re forced to stop and think about what you’re buying. Strictly using cash really helps us to visually see what we’re buying and where are purchases are coming from. The only thing we have seen come out of out bank account is bills, gas, and tolls. It’s been a delight going on to see our summary of expenses that are strictly just bills. No more unnecessary expenses being pulled from our checking account. Even better, no more pulling money from our savings account because we underestimated how much we had to spend.  I will tell you what, it’s been quite a refreshing experience for the both of us.

We are both now more cognizant of what we’re spending, where our money is going, and it’s forcing us to stop and think about if we really need what we’re about to buy. I’m going to do a recap of how this system is working in the near future, but for now I encourage all of you who are secretly or outwardly struggling with money problems to try our “card diet” system. It’s definitely working on this end as we have already gained about $500 in our savings account!

What are some ways you use to save money and make you more aware of where it’s all going? Let me know! 🙂

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  1. Interesting article! We tend to do a similar cash method… but with a bit of a twist. I love to travel (been to over 50 countries as an adult). As such, we each signed up for a credit card that gave us each 50,000 miles for signing up and 2 miles for each dollar spent (don’t know if that promotion is still going on or not?). Anyway, we use those cards pay for the mortgage, electricity, etc. and then pay the bill immediately with the money that was already earmarked for said expenses in the budget. Therefore, we don’t get charged interest, stay to our budget, and earn a few thousand miles each month (since they are valued at 1.5 cents per mile, it’s like getting 3% back on living expenses, lol).

    Our next trip is going to be to visit my kid sister in London this autumn. Already picked up the guidebook (http://amzn.to/1RfL33M ). The next step is plan out inexpensive things to do during the visit. According to USA Today, late autumn through March is the cheapest time to fly to Europe (http://traveltips.usatoday.com/cheapest-time-travel-europe-18531.html ). Thanks again for the post

    1. Okay, I must say, your comment has been one of the most interesting one’s I’ve come encountered with. I loved this idea so much, I showed my husband, and we are going to try and find a card that would be close to what you found. We LOVE to travel as well, and have been saving up for quite awhile to be able to do those things. If we could get a “deal” such as this one, it would help out significantly in the near future. And by the way, 50 countries?! You are so very lucky! Good for you 🙂 Thank you SO much for writing this comment, my husband and I are going to look into it. Late autumn through March huh? That little fact just came in handy. Do you have a blog? I’d love to follow your journey’s! Have fun in London! Thank you again for the comment. 🙂

  2. I’ve actually been contemplating this lately. Jared has the tendency to stop for a gas station treat after work and I slide my card for anything we “need.” It occurred to me last week that we might spend significantly less money if we didn’t have cards and only paid with cash. So funny that you were experimenting with this concept and then writing a post about it at the same time! 🙂

    1. Look at that! We’re like two peas in a pod, or should I say, “great minds think alike.” 🙂 Yes, Kevin and I did the same thing. We realized that we were spending well beyond our means and decided to try this cash idea out. It’s actually been great, because like I said in my article, you spend less if you can visually see what you’re “allowed” to buy. 🙂 Happy saving!

  3. your so organized! I love these ideas…I still live with my parents, but I know once I move out expenses and budgeting is going to be really important! Going to save this post for later ♡ dynamicbohemian.com

    1. Aw, thank you! Appreciate the positive feedback. Yeah, I didn’t really appreciate everything my parents did for me until I moved out! It was quite the eye opener to see how much everything costs. I’m telling ya, this “card diet” thing actually works. 🙂

  4. Have you tried “not spending for a month” challenge? Basically you only pay your bills. Groceries are done the month before and you’re not allowed to spend money on anything

    1. We have not tried that. We take saving our money very seriously and haven’t bought anything for ourselves in quite some time, but this sounds like quite the challenge. Once I tried shopping for groceries for two weeks and it didn’t work out too well. But I’ll have to look into it again! Doing anything to save money is right up my alley! 🙂

  5. Great post! Im such a bad saver but I find if im saving for an ovreseas trip I need to convert my savings into local currencies so I can’t spend it.

    1. “If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.” That’s our new motto! Great post, thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  6. Great post. When I’ve gone on a spending diet, I just keep reiterating to myself, there’s nothing else I need. people in third world countries live with so much less and are happy ! I like the cash system too though.

    1. That’s a great way to think! People in third world countries don’t even have the option to buy things they want. Awesome comment thanks!



  7. Wow, this is a good idea. My partner and I are buying a house so we need to tighten the purse string and I will try this money diet on us. Fingers crossed it works haha

    1. Give it a try, it can be difficult at times, but the reward is much greater than buying something you want but do not necessarily need. 🙂



  8. Thanks for this brilliant idea! I’m also scared of carrying cash around. I like how disciplined you and your husband are, immediately depositing your paychecks as soon as you get them but still leaving a little for yourselves for your enjoyment. 🙂

    1. Yeah, I get scared of carrying cash around so what I do is do my shopping on Friday when we get paid, that way most of my grocery money is gone and I don’t have to worry about carrying around an excessive amount of cash. 🙂 Thank you!



  9. I love this idea! The hardest part about budgeting when using plastic is, as you say, losing track of what you are spending. For me sticking to a budget is very important because I travel so much. I write down literally everything I buy. I give myself a daily budget. If I spend less, it rolls over to the next day. It works pretty well for me!

    1. Exactly! See writing things down sounded like a perfect idea but I feel like I’m not organized enough to do that or I would sometimes forget. Guess I should try it before I knock it huh? 😀 Happy traveling!



  10. We have used a cash budget for pretty much our whole marriage and I’m never changing! Its the easiest way to keep track of our spending! We also do a small “spending budget” each week and it’s great having a little bit of money that doesn’t have a specific place!

    1. It’s awesome! I only wish somebody would have shared this technique with me sooner! Yes, couldn’t agree more. 🙂 Happy saving!



    1. Oh girl, I used to spend way too much on groceries. Between using cash and going to Aldi, I have cut my grocery bill down to $50 a week for two people! It’s pretty amazing.



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