Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pay With Cash, Live Frugally

Reduction, it is the first part of my new years resolution to reduce, reuse, and recycle more this year.  After a recent shopping trip this past weekend, I feel like I am accomplishing my goal.  And using cash was key.  Last week I took $120 cash out of the bank and earmarked it for groceries. On Friday I used $82 to pay for groceries, leaving $38 in my wallet for food we'd need over the week.  Sunday I realized that we were running low on whole milk and that I was out of olive oil.  I started putting together a list and planned to run over to Woodmans, our local warehouse grocery store.

With my son along for the trip I entered the store with list in hand.  After a glance I thought "I'll never get out of here spending only $38 -- this place always runs me close to $100 -- I guess I'll have to use the debit card.  Wait, wait, this is not how I want to shop. I have $38 and that is what I'm going to spend".  Even with a 3 1/2 year old shopping partner, I was able to focus on my list, cross of things that I would not really need before my next weekly shopping and find a few bargains.  For example, instead of picking up a loaf of bread that I normally pay $3.99 for, I decided to make a loaf at home (ingredients all on hand) if I really wanted bread.

We set a shopping record that day, leaving with two bags of items and spending $29.  I purchased 1 pound of organic hamburger (on sale for $3.99), pasta sauce, organic whole milk, olive oil, toilet paper made from recycled materials (8 rolls for $2), and V8 juice.  I still have $9 left, which will easily pay for the dozen eggs and yogurt I'll pick up mid-week at the store near my office.

Cash -- it made me pay attention, prioritize, and take control of my spending.  I was not on auto pilot.  I bought far less than normal.  Yes, I need more of this in my spending habits.

How about you -- do you spend with cash, debit, or credit?


  1. I am doing the exact same thing and I totally agree with you. I've always been a stickler for using "cash" to pay for stuff, but in my mind that also included debit card/checks. I have read that one actually needs to feel the "pain" of using actual paper cash to pay for things, so as an experiment I did exactly what you did. I went to the grocery store with my monthly food budget in cash and left all cards at home including the debit card so that I would have no choice. I automatically focused on what I REALLY needed right then instead of what I might need later. Combining store sales and coupons I turned what normally would have been a $30-45 shopping trip into a $9 one and got everything I really needed without adding excess junk. I'm so happy and am committed to continue with my cash only shopping.

  2. @Newlythrifty -- Great name, and thanks for the comment. In the past I had tried setting a limit for debit/credit cards. But it never failed to creep. See a good sale, stock up. Paying with cash really forces you to spend what you said you would spend, sale or no sale. Had I used my debit card I would have bought 4 or 5 packages of the organic hamburger that was on sale. I'd have saved money, but not that much, and I would have gone over budget for the week. Do that every week and you go over budget for the month.