Fast forward almost three years later. We are no longer using credit cards, will pay off my car by fall, and then its onto my school loans. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in getting our financial act together is the importance of using cash. All the time. Especially at the grocery store.
So what's the big deal with shopping with cash? I learned through Financial Peace University that studies have been done that show when you actually make purchases with cash it activates pain receptors in your brain. Bottom line? Your brain actually feels something when you use cash...somehow it hurts more. Crazy, right?!
We strictly now use only cash, NO debit cards even (we don't even carry them on us!). If we don't have enough cash, it doesn't get bagged and waits for a later grocery trip. Here's a couple things that have really helped us stay focused and using only cash for grocery shopping:
1. Bring only the amount of cash for groceries into the store
I only bring my wallet with my when I grocery shop. In it, is one white envelope labeled "groceries." I have that amount of cash to purchase groceries enough to last us about two weeks. In not bringing any other cash with me I am not tempted to move money around. Not to mention it is a good reminder of sticking to the budget.
2. If you don't have enough cash, don't bag it!!!
I know it sounds simple, but actually this can be a hard one and especially was at the beginning. As the groceries are being rang up I am holding the cash in my hands to remind me of what I can spend. Under no circumstances do I get it unless there is the money. I have gotten pretty comfortable at asking the cashier to take things off merely because we don't have money for it.
3. Find the best grocery store to get the most from your cash
There is a Kroger right by us, so I usually get our produce and certain brands we like from there. But about a year ago, I discovered Aldi. Oh how do I love this place! It is a grocery store with significantly lower prices than your average grocery store. A few things that makes it stand out besides the prices are you have to bring your own bags and pay a quarter for a cart and get it back when you return it. Since shopping at Aldi, it has really helped our grocery budget a lot! I actually get thrilled to pieces when I come home and show Jim the bill, and how much I was able to get. Look and see if an Aldi is near you today.
4. Meal Plan & Grocery List in Advance
Throughout the week I am adding items we need as they come up, and finalizing the meal plan. Going grocery shopping with a focused, itemized list is another way I stay focused with our cash budget.
5. Meal Plan Around Deals
This one I am still working on but from the research I've done it helps save money too. Before grocery shopping, look to see what is on sale and then build a meal plan around that. It takes more time, but can make a difference at the checkout counter.
Now when I come home from grocery shopping I typically do a little happy dance, proud of the saving skills we're learning and using.
So what are your tips and tricks for grocery shopping? Do you stick to a cash budget?