Once you’ve decided on a grocery budget amount that works for your family, you need to set up some sort of accountability for sticking with that budget. This is key for the success of your grocery budget.
You can’t just mentally kind of, sort of have an idea of a grocery budget for it to work.
Really think through what would work best for you, your spouse, and your family when it comes to tracking your grocery budget. There are two different systems I would recommend…
(Download a free Envelope System Template here.)
1. Cash Envelope System
A cash envelope system is just that — you take out your allotted Grocery Budget amount in cash every month (or weekly or bi-weekly, depending upon when you get paid) and just take that cash to the store.
The benefits of using cash are that you can’t go over budget. When the money’s gone, the money’s gone! It forces you to stick with your budget and to really analyze each purchase as you’re putting it into the cart.
The drawbacks are that you have to mess with going to the bank or ATM to get cash — which can be a hassle for some people. In addition, some people find that they spend more or spend the cash on non-grocery purchases because they have it in their wallet and it’s “burning a hole in their pocket”.
Need some more encouragement to try a Cash Envelope System? Read these posts:
- 6 Reasons People Argue Against a Cash Envelope System
- The Envelope System Experiment
- Dave Ramsey’s Envelope System
2. Virtual Envelope System
These apps allow you to set up your “cash envelopes” or budget categories and then deduct your purchases throughout the month. This way, you can always have a running total of how much you’ve spent and how much you have left in each budget category you’ve set up.
The benefits of using this system are that you can keep better tabs on what you’re spending your money on and when you’re spending it and how you’re doing on your budget overall at a glance. It’s also nice because you don’t have to mess with sharing cash envelopes if you’re like our family and both spouses pitch in with grocery shopping and other shopping at different times throughout the month.
The drawbacks are that you are swiping a card — which means that you can more easily go over budget than you can when you use cash. Plus, it’s more sophisticated than cash (i.e. you have to mess with inputting the data after each shopping trip and tracking how much you have left in each budget category.
Need some more encouragement to try a Virtual Cash Envelope System? Check out these posts:
- Why We Love YouNeedaBudget
- How YNAB Helped Us Pay Off $50,000 In Debt
- 4 Personal Finance Products & Why They Might Work For You
A Note About Overspending
With both of these systems, you still can overspend. Because YOU are ultimately the one who is in charge of what you spend and what you don’t spend. A budget doesn’t work unless you do! 😉
Overspending could be the result of a self-discipline issue. Or, it could be even deeper than that: you could be overspending because you are trying to fill a void in your life of some sort.
When you are tempted to spend money that you either don’t have, isn’t budgeted, or is an impulse buy, start training yourself to stop and ask: Why?
Why am I wanting to spend this money? What need am I trying to fulfill? Why do I want this thing or experience? What do I think it’s going to do for me?
The more you can step back and ask, “Why?”, the more you’ll be able to get to the root of the issues and deal with those versus just trying to slap a bandage on surface problems — which will never resolve the issues longterm.
Do you use a system to track your grocery purchases? Tell us in the comments!
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