September 30, 2014 by Ellen V
We’ve been trying a few new budgeting efforts since our move to Virginia. We have some added expenses here and we’re without a whole salary on my end, but we knew we’d have these challenges this fall. Luckily, the cost of living has been significantly lower in this area of the country, our temptations to spend are few, and motivation to stick to our budget is high. I’m learning to navigate eBay, which has been a highly productive hobby! Jane and I have scoped out pretty much every free or low-cost toddler-friendly activity in the county, and we base our morning and weekend outings on those events. And we’ve switched to a cash system for groceries.
I know lots of people who, with the exception of utilities, pay cash for almost all of their expenses. Neither Eric or I are drawn to that level of “cash system” frugality, though we do see it’s benefits. We have, however, loved doing cash for groceries. We have a goal grocery budget per week, and we keep the month’s worth of cash on hand. This allows us to go a little over our budget if needed, knowing we’ll need to cut back another week. We’ve been pretty generous with our budget thus far, with the hopes that we’ll be able to cut it back a bit as we become better at the system.
September has been our first full month in Virginia, and we had about $20 leftover. We debated a few ideas about what to do with the excess (split it and use it as free spending money? enjoy a meal out as a date? go on a family outing?) but ultimately we decided that the best use would be to stock pile a few things, based around sales and what we use on a regular basis, in hopes that it would lower our budget as we continue to do it.
Why does cash work for us? It’s very tangible, for one thing. And now that we have a goal with what to do with the excess, there’s some motivation to not only hit the budget but be under. And because I’m doing most of the meal planning and creating the grocery lists, it keeps me aware of sales, coupons, needs vs. wants, and what a good price actually is. It’s actually (dare I admit it?) fun.