I spent $470 in my first week of giving up credit cards, putting me on track to blow up my budget this month. Part of that was due to a pricey snowboarding trip, but a lot of it was because I had a ton of cash in my pocket. When I feel flush, I buy stuff I would not normally splurge for (coffee drinks, fancy beef jerky, drinks for others, etc).
To reverse my spendy trend, I decided to carefully plan my errands and grocery trip yesterday so I would only have $5 extra with me. More often than not, if I always have an emergency $20 bill on me, I’m going to spend it. I estimated the cost of my errands ($5 – shoe repair guy; $25 – groceries; $5 – vitamins) and put $40 in my wallet.
The shoe repair bill was actually $7, raising my awareness of my remaining dollars. My first grocery stop added up to $11.87, an insane amount for three items (hummus, cheese, and salsa). I have a tasty hummus recipe and am debating making my own.
When I arrived at the second grocery store I was hyper aware of how much money I had left over – $21.13. Having a finite amount of dollars influenced what I purchased. I bought super cheap in-season strawberries for $.99 instead of bananas, and passed on sliced lunch meat so I could buy chicken thighs and pork chops, the two most expensive items on my list.
As I put each item into my cart, I wrote down its cost. When I felt I was approaching my dollar limit, I added everything up, including tax. Having to pay close attention to – no, being controlled by my limited funds – was painful. With a credit card, I do not limit myself when it comes to food. I aim to spend about $27 a week on groceries, but if a staple is on sale or I see a good deal, I do not hesitate to overspend. With cash, I don’t have that option.
By the time I made it to the drugstore to buy vitamins, I had a little over $6 left. I could pay for the vitamins using a $4 off coupon and the spare coins in my wallet, but I walked out of the store emptyhanded. It didn’t feel right to go home penniless.