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Reader Testimonial: By switching to cash, we’re saving $500 per month

A testimony by Kathryn from Bond Musings

I didn’t think we needed to put our family on the cash system to save money each month. After all, I tracked every dollar we spent, paid off our cards each month, and knew exactly why we were over budget every month.

We had six overnight guests for a weekend, so of course groceries would be over budget!

My husband turned thirty, so of course he needed a really fun party to celebrate!

There was such a great sale on kids clothes, so of course I needed to stock up!

When I started adding up just how much over budget we were every month, though, I knew something needed to change.

I have been a faithful reader of Money Saving Mom® for about two years, so I have heard plenty of praise about the cash system. I just never really understood why the cash system can save you money beyond the principle of “when you run out of cash, you stop spending.”

Here’s what I’ve learned during my short time on the cash system:

1. You shop less.

I used to take my small children to the store just to have something to do. If I “needed” a new basket to corral the kids’ toys, we went. But when I had to grab my cash before leaving, re-purposing a basket I already owned became much more attractive.

2. You buy less.

For me, that means “extras” at the grocery store don’t even make it into my cart, like snacks we don’t need or fruit we can’t eat before it spoils. I simply do not want to be stuck at checkout without enough money to pay for the things we really do need!

Or at a restaurant, my husband and I are much more deliberate in ordering the appropriate amount of food — we no longer need an appetizer, salads, our own entrees, and beverages!

3. You buy differently.

For example, we were organizing our very small garage and decided to hang many of the items that were cluttering precious floor space. At the home improvement store, my husband saved $12 simply by choosing individual hooks instead of the pre-packaged kit that the store offered.

Before we went to the cash system, we were around $400 over budget every month, which is our exact cushion. Now, we are easily $100 under budget, which, I am both pleased and embarrassed to admit, means we have saved $500 a month by switching to cash.

Please don’t make the mistake we did for so long — stop using your cards and start using cash! I know you’ll save more than you even hope to!

Kathryn keeps her hands busy during the day as a stay-at-home mother to two precious girls. She attempts to occupy her mind as well by reading and by blogging at Bond Musings.

photo credit

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  • Elizabeth says:

    I too am not a fan of the cash system. We use our cc and we aren’t in debt. We pay them in full each month and we watch our spending very closely. It is a hassle to track our spending with cash. It really bugs me that people try to make the ones who uses cc feel guilty. If you want to use cash I support that. All I ask is that you respect others right to use cc.

  • Wendy says:

    Kathryn, believe it or not, your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am a full time student (not working) and will be starting clinicals next week. Since our household only has one income right now, “extras” aren’t in the budget, but somehow we still manage to buy them. Just today, I overspent at the grocery store…a big no-no this week since my husband took some time off at Christmas, so we won’t be getting a paycheck. I had to do the unthinkable (and very embarrassing) and take back “extras” I had bought at the grocery store! I simply explained to them I did not have it in my budget and had overspent. They were quite nice about it, didn’t give me a hard time, and took back about $50 worth of groceries. I couldn’t really be any more embarrassed today so this is why I don’t mind admitting my mistake on here.

    Again, since I will be starting clinicals soon, we will have to start paying for a babysitter through the week whereas previously my children (ages 3 and 2) were staying at home with me (my classes are online…but clinicals are not). This also means we will be having to pay for more gas than usual because I will be driving to and from clinicals.
    My husband actually mentioned today that maybe we should switch to cash. I’ll have a set amount to use at the grocery store and whatever is over that amount will have to go back. We may not be able to have all those little “extras” right now, but I won’t be in clinicals forever, and once I graduate, our sacrifice will definitely pay off. Then, maybe I’ll get a “raise” on my grocery budget!

    Thank you Kathryn, for reaffirming that this is indeed a great idea and that I’m not the only person in the world with a budget 😉

  • Wendy says:

    Sorry bout that, I actually typed my email address in wrong and wasn’t quite sure how to fix it but I just posted something. Mine is the one about starting clinicals, being on one income right now, having 2 young children, and having to take part of my groceries back today (how embarrassing).

    Cash is definitely the way to go!

  • Lynn says:

    Some of us are already very disciplined in our spending and switching to cash would NOT save us $500 a month because we’re already disciplined to not spend on things we don’t really need. If we’re already disciplined financially, than the cc rewards are just frosting, not a temptation to spend more. I am not lured into spending more at restaurants just because they take my credit card or my credit card will give me bonus points for using it at a restaurant. Dh and I are too disciplined for that as we know we will save much more by eating at home. Eating out is budgeted for and saved as a special treat…and when we do eat out and use the cc we have the money set aside to pay it off in full. For folks who have a hard time with self-control when it comes to shopping and eating out, the cash only method may be the discipline method that may help them….but not everyone needs that method.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I so agree Lynn. When I read this post. My first thought was there isn’t a problem with the cc it is a lack of discipline. So if cash help with the lack of discipline then by all means this the way to go. But let’s call it what it is. Not make the cc out to be the bad guy. I use my cc and pay in full every month. I keep tabs on my spending and set aside the money to pay in full each month. When I shop I know just because I am using my cc that doesn’t mean I can buy anything I want. I make a list and stick to it. I don’t even take my coupons in. I take only the ones for the items on my list.

      • Kathryn B says:

        You’re right; I WAS lacking discipline. I do not think CCs are “the bad guy” at all, and I hope I never implied that. It is not my intent to make anyone else feel guilty– I was simply sharing a success story and hoping to encourage others.

        • Elizabeth says:

          I am sorry if it sound like I was being mean that isn’t what I intended.. When I read this: stop using your cards and start using cash! I know you’ll save more than you even hope to!It made me very concern that the wrong message was being sent because it wasn’t getting to the root cause. A person can switch to cash and still have the same problems, It is only when they address the real issue do they save money. I know because I was there at one time. I brought into the hype about getting rid of cc and using cash but I never addressed what my real issues were. I still had the same problems with cash. When I got my heart right and addressed my real issues then and only then did I start saving money. Now by the grace and mercy of God can I save money and it doesn’t matter what I use. Whether it be cash or CC. This was my whole point. Again I am sorry if I came across mean. I would like to see someone write a post about this.

    • Rnae says:

      If you are so disciplined, why the need for a credit card?

  • Liz says:

    Way to go! This is very inspiring and practical.

  • Jen Knox says:

    I have to say that what has worked best for me, and maybe it’s impractical for some, is to go to the store less often. It sounds simplistic, but when I go to the store for five things, I walk out with ten, so I’ve reduced the number of trips I make to two per week maximum so that I’m somewhat forced to be more creative with what we already have.

  • Kris B says:

    This is me.

    I’ve tried the cash system before and found it “uncomfortable” because I couldn’t buy what I “needed” so I quickly went back to using the card.

    How ridiculous that statement sounds to me now. I’m putting away the cards for good this time and will just have to re-purpose what I have rather than running to Walmart every time I “need” something.

  • Selena says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have a very similar background in how we handle money in our home and your post gave me the kick in the rear I needed to go old-school and use cash! I’m excited to see how much we can save. We will probably be needing a new vehicle in the next year or two so that is what we are going to save for! Thanks again!

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