So, just about three months ago, I decided to challenge myself and use cash only for all grocery purchases (okay, looking back, it was supposed to be for my son's purchases and gifts too, but I didn't do that). In our household, groceries include all health, beauty, general household supplies and cleaning, and Pull Ups and wipes. I have found, through talking to other people, that their grocery budgets only include food items and they don't really budget for those other items. If you do, how do you fit in those expenses then? Just curious.
Here were some of my findings:
1. I don't use the same amount of grocery money each week, because I may go to only one store, or I may go to several, including a big Costco trip (for things that last longer-like several months), so I had to take out more than a quarter of my budget for the month just in case.
2. In the beginning, I was really bargain hunting, hitting up several stores a week, like CVS and Walgreens, to get their deals, on items I use, but didn't particularly need that week or even that month. Result of that? Lots of extra time spent shopping when I could have been relaxing on some time off I had, AND it actually left less money for the necessities that month.
3. I did a great job stocking up, but I noticed on things like body wash (I'm set until February probably) and for some reason, granola bars. We don't usually buy granola bars, though we like them, but all of a sudden, I had a ton. We're still eating on them now, and really, the sugar in those aren't so great for you, even if they are all natural (and not so great for someone who is hypoglycemic either.) I also found that a lot of the coupons that are out there are for junk-type food and that isn't what we typically eat. I found myself gravitating toward them, however, because they were good deals, on sale, and I had a coupon! Not the route I want to go though.
4. I had some great food (or at least food) stocked up through August, but when September hit, my freezer and cupboards seemed quite empty, and at the end of August, I didn't have any excess money to carry over either. I ended up having to make a big Costco run, which left us with little money this month. We actually had cereal one night for dinner and I have an $18.00 budget for food this week to make it to October.
5. Having cash actually meant I was spending MORE, I think, and not monitoring it as well. It wasn't as easy for me to see as when I wrote down my debit purchases each week (or every so often) to see what I'd have left.
6. Ending up with so little in August, and needing to buy lots of Pull Ups at that point too (I'd stocked up earlier and ran low), led me to decide my son really needed to be potty trained so we could save on the cost from here on out (he'll be three in November). Sure, I spent the extra money I would have spent on those on incentives toys the last two weeks, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.
I gave it a shot, using cash only, and it didn't work for me. I think I'm actually going to go back to my old way of shopping with my standard coupons at one store a week (and Costco once a month) and just try my best to save.
What is your best money saving trick with your grocery budget?
See other great things that work for bloggers here.