Grocery Budget 101 – Cash Budget

Grocery Shopping

Let’s talk about grocery budgets. This is a tip I’ve put into practice with surprising success. You see, about 6 months or so ago I was going over my grocery budget every single month. Sometimes by $20, sometimes by $40, but I always spent more than I should have. I’m not bad at budgeting in general, but I always made excuses like: “But I needed to make certain things for my blog!” (can anyone relate??) or “Well…we had those people over for dinner.  You wouldn’t want me to stop being hospitable, would you?”

Cash Grocery Budget
In the end, what solved the problem was a cash grocery budget with a little extra incentive. Each month I get a certain amount of cash out of the bank. That is my grocery money for the month. If I spend less than my budget, I can keep the extra as “fun money” to do what I want! If I spend more than I should, the extra gets taken out of my fun money.  Actually seeing the cash dwindle down as the month goes on reminds me to be careful as I’m shopping.

This works out really well for us. Because I love to cook (and because of the blog), I’m still motivated to make good meals for us, but because I want my fun money, I’m also motivated to save as much as I can. It’s like a game each month! Plus, because we set the cash budget $25 less than our previous budget, we are actually saving money each month. And best of all, I’ve been under my budget every single month since we started! (And still had room in the budget to make new and fun things like white chocolate lemon truffles!)

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
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17 Responses to “Grocery Budget 101 – Cash Budget”

  1. 1

    Jackie Koll — May 4, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Thanks for this idea; I struggle with the same thing – always going over budget and saying “but I need this” LOL I like the fun money idea!!

  2. 2

    StephenC — May 4, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    Good for you, kiddo. Here in DC everything is so expensive I am aware of every darn thing I put in the shopping cart. AND, they charge you 5 cents for every bag you need.

  3. 3

    Tasha @ Voracious — May 4, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    Oooh that's a good tip! Yes, seeing the money disappear would definitely make me think twice before buying something I didn't definitely need. Although…I think those truffles would be a necessity. They are gorgeous!

  4. 4

    Stephanie — May 4, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

    I've been wanting to try the cash/envelope system for groceries for a while… your incentive idea is great! Just the push I needed!

  5. 5

    Cara @ The Boys Made Me Do It — May 4, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

    I've been wanting to try this too! I always spend too much but can always justify unfortunately!

  6. 6

    Abby — May 4, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    LOVE this idea! I spend a lot at the grocery store and have been meaning to figure out exactly how much! This could help me figure out how much I want to spend and stick with it!

  7. 7

    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — May 4, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    Good for you, what a great idea using a “reward” system. I always spend way too much, using the same excuses you mentioned.

  8. 8

    Happy When Not Hungry — May 4, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    What a great idea! I really think my hubby and I should start doing this. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9

    DessertForTwo — May 5, 2011 @ 12:54 am

    Wow, you & me both! I buy stuff 'for the blog' that I don't really need, or that I should wait for a sale. Yesterday, I bought Nutella @ $4.39 a jar! I never buy it unless it's on sale, but I bought it 'for the blog.'
    Thanks for the budgeting ideas! :)

  10. 10

    Kristan — May 5, 2011 @ 12:54 am

    Great idea!! I am HORRIBLE with my grocery budget…horrible.

  11. 11

    Cooking Rookie — May 5, 2011 @ 12:55 am

    That's a nice idea. I used a similar stick and carrot system for a diet, and it worked :-) . But I don't think I can use it for groceries: we're shopping in Costco, and I don't think with these bulk quantities you can budget per month :-)

  12. 12

    Megan — May 5, 2011 @ 3:05 am

    I need to budget better. Maybe I should try the cash game!

  13. 13

    Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane — May 5, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    I can totally relate. I go into the supermarket and come out £20 poorer when I only intended to go and buy some milk – because I needed to buy stuff to bake for my blog! Those white chocolate lemon truffles look really good too, I've never tried lemon in a truffle but I love that flavour so I'm sure it will be yummy :)

  14. 14

    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite — May 5, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

    Thanks for the tips Megan! I need to really be better about budgeting. I've started meal planning which has helped a LOT in terms of saving money AND not being wasteful, but somehow I can never get under $100/week. That is my dream haha…though that does cover breakfast, lunch and dinner for husband and I for the whole week.

  15. 15

    Nutmeg Nanny — May 5, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

    I'm horrible at budgeting. I'm not even sure I know how much I spend on groceries every month….

  16. 16

    Dana — May 6, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    This is a really good idea Megan. My grocery spending is totally out of control. My husband will sometimes mention that we need to set a budget and I can't even fathom how I would stay within it. I do know that when I only shop once or twice a week, rather than popping in every day, I tend to spend less. I'm really trying to stick to that!

  17. 17

    Taryn — October 18, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    I realize this was posted a couple months ago, and I hope you don’t mind this question, but what did you make your food budget each week?

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