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! 🙂