Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ca$h Mon3y

As October starts, Dusty and I will be embarking on a new system. We will now be using cash only for groceries and entertainment. We have not been keeping track of how much we are spending in these categories and I suspect our lax attitudes have caused us to spend almost 1K a month between these 2 categories. Not good and a little embarrassing.

Since I do 85% of the grocery shopping this will be a big test to me to see if I can feed our family (and friends) for $260 a month.

The cash doesn't really flow like it used to now that Dusty's getting his Masters. We really have to be diligent about careful spending.

Do any of you use the cash system? What are some helpful tips you can give me?


christy said...

I think you may be cutting it a little close with $260. We don't use cash, but I track my groceries and we spend $475 a month. I could do less, but I refuse to cut our produce (surprisingly expensive), snacks, nuts, organic milk and eggs...

We have a cash system for gifts, entertainment, diapers, eating out, basically anything other than bills or groceries. I keep it all in 1 pile and when it's gone, it's gone. :)

Good luck! I am sure if you do the grocery game (I quit a while ago) you could save more and cut it down a lot.

Sarah Anne said...

We keep track too, but cash was annoying for groceries. If I ever wanted Spencer to grab something on the way home, I'd have to remember to give him cash ahead of time, which rarely happened. What we found that works better is It'll pull all of your bank and credit accounts into one place. You can set budgets, categorize every transaction and keep track of what you're spending in each area. And best of all it's free! It also has iphone apps, so we can check where we are on our phones.

I agree with Christy, $260 a month may be a little tough. But if you can do it, hats off to you! I'm gluten free and that cuts out a lot of the cheaper, pre-packaged items, so our grocery bill tends to be on the higher side. You might have great success with this!

Good luck!

Kara said...

Thanks ladies. Since this is our first month, I was just guess about $260. We will see how long that lasts. Fortunately I have lots of meat in the freezer which can be one of the most expensive part of groceries.

Also, is cool. I use yodlee,com which is the same thing. Our problem though is using credit cards is so convenient that i think we are spending hundreds more than we would if we used cash. I guess we will see.

Let the experiment begin!

Our growing family said...

Sometimes it really helps me if I divide the $ by week or every two weeks...helps to not spend so much at the beginning of the month(This only doesn't work if you need to buy bulk).
Have fun on your new adventure!

Chris said...

$400 is more realistic for just groceries, I'd say.

Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

We use cash for entertainment (dates mostly) and we give ourselves a cash allowance each month for things like coffee, Mark's occasional sandwich bought at work or beers with the guys. I take out the cash monthly and parcel it out by week so we don't spend it all in the beginning of the month. =)

We also use and love it. The other things I've started doing that really help keep our monthly outflow really similar each month is I buy diapers on Amazon with the "subscribe and save" option. The diapers come as often as you want (mine come once a month) and it's a set price- it comes to about $20-$25 savings each month compared to buying diapers in the store and I always have enough and never end up overspending by running to the store and buying more diapers. I also started buying my groceries from Love it. Saves me time and you can see exactly how much you're spending while you shop and adjust accordingly. Our budget is $400-$475/month and I buy all organic/natural for the most part and have been able to stay on budget, no problem. I've also been planning about 3-4 vegetarian meals/week which really cuts down the grocery bill. That's a Dave Ramsey suggestion that we've just recently started and we're enjoying it. I could definitely spend less, but I don't want bare cupboards! Oh! I almost forgot, another thing I've starting doing is making my own sandwich bread. Surprisingly easy and super healthy, it saves about $25 in our grocery budget each month since we go through a lot of bread in our house. We've yet to see that decrease in our monthly outflow since I just started last week, but you can shave the savings off the grocery budget I listed above. Here's the link if you're interested:

I freeze two loaves (unbaked)- 2 loaves last us a week, so I'm making the bread twice a month and baking 2 loaves a week if that makes sense. Sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not, and who doesn't love the smell of fresh bread once a week?! =) I'm also planning to start making my own granola cereal and snack bars with cheaper bulk ingredients to cut that out of the grocery shopping trip.

Before we had Brynn, we had a sizeable surplus at the end of each month since we were both working that we could put towards savings and working all the endless projects around our house. Now that we're on one income, we wanted to still meet those goals (obviously at a slower rate!) and the easiest way for us to do that was to make sure we had our goal surplus at the end of each month. It's awesome now that we can check mint or our bank account at any time and it's current with nothing floating around that hasn't posted yet, like a random trip to Target that wasn't planned. All the bills, groceries and diapers are the same every month, and we can spend the cash as we please, which gives us some flexibility.

Sorry for the novel! We have really become passionate about this stuff in the last few years and it's fun to get creative with less! Good luck! If anyone can figure out a good money system, it's you Kara! How bout you give me some tips on saving for a new car??? We're going to be in the market next year and plan to pay cash.

Kaytee said...

My goal for groceries is about $280and I can do it most months if I'm really careful. I've found what helps the most is planning meals ahead of time. That way I'm only buying things I know I'll use and I try to plan meals that use some of the same ingredients so that I don't waste food. Also, then I'm only making a few big trips to the store a month and don't have to run to the store for a "few things" and end up buying a lot more than planned.
I don't skimp on fresh produce and can still make the buget if I'm just careful in other areas and buy off-brand in other products if I know it tastes as good. And I use coupons when I have them (but not like the crazy coupon people).

Mike and Becka said...

We use cash for food and have been for about 6 months or so. Before we were using cash we still kept track of how much we were spending but we were often going over our food budget. Now we take cash out at the beginning of the month ($450) and once it's gone it's gone. $450 covers ALL groceries and all eating out.

I think being a better planner and doing big grocery trips - instead of running to pick up a few things (like others have said) - helps save a lot of money.

I will be so very impressed if you can make it on $260 and will want to know how you did it! :)

Good luck!