getting cash from a machine

This week I will be running some excerpts from my new book, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less. They will be short selections from a few different chapters, just to give you an idea of some of the contents.

Using  Cash

Taken from Chapter 1: Working With a Budget

Once  you  have  determined  what  your  monthly  budget  ought   to  be,  or  how  much  you  have  to  work  with,  here  is  my  biggest piece  of  advice  in  sticking  to  that   budget:  USE  CASH!

I  know  the  reasons  that  people   prefer  not  to  use  cash.  They  don’t   want  to  carry  that  much  around  in   their  purse.  They  prefer  to  put  in   on  a  credit  card  that  earns  points   and  then  pay  it  off.  They  make  all   of  their  expenses  on  debit  and  then   just  keep  track  of  it.  It’s  more  work   to  set  it  up,  take  out  the  cash  at  the beginning  of  the  month,  and  stick  to  the  system.  It’s  embarrassing  to  pull  out  an  envelope  full  of  cash  when  you’re  in  a   busy  line-­up  at  the  grocery  store.  It’s  _______  (insert  your  own   reason  here).

Regardless  of  your  reason  for  not  wanting  to  use  cash,  here  are   the  reasons  that  I  find  it  the  best  way  to  stay  on  track  with  my   own  grocery  budget:

It  is  visible  and  very  tangible. I  can  see  exactly  how  much  I   have  left,  and  I  feel  it  when  I  pull  those  bills  out  to  make  a   purchase  and  notice  how  much  smaller  the  remaining  stack  is.   It  keeps  me  very  conscious  of  what  I  spend.

It  prevents  me  from  making  impulse  purchases  that  I  really   don’t  have  the  money  for. Trust  me-­  it  is  much  more  embarrassing  to  not  have  enough  cash  for  the  food  you’ve  put  in   your  cart  than  it  is  to  simply  count  out  the  correct  amount  in   front  of  curious  onlookers!  When  I  know  exactly  how  much  I   have  to  spend,  I  make  sure  that  I  am  keeping  track  of  what   goes  into  my  cart  before  I  get  to  the  checkout  line.

Even  if  I  forget  that  I’ve  spent  more  than  I  thought,  the  cash  is   no  longer  there  and  I  cannot  accidentally  bust  my  budget. This   is  something  that  would  often  happen  to  me  when  we  used  a   debit  card  for  all  our  purchases.  The  smaller,  quick-­run-­to-­the-­store  kind  of  expenses  would  slip  my  mind  when  I  was   calculating  how  much  money  I  had  left  to  spend,  until  it   actually  came  time  to  add  it  all  up  at  the  end  of  the  month  and   I  would  realize  that,  once  again,  I  had  gone  over  budget.  With  cash,  if  it’s  spent,  it’s  spent.

It  forces  me  to  really  evaluate  each  purchase  as  I  go  to  make  it. Sure,  that  packaged  spaghetti  sauce  would  be  nice  and  easy,   but  for  the  same  amount  I  could  purchase  tomatoes  and   tomato  paste  and  some  veggies,  and  make  a  much  larger   amount  of  sauce  that  would  be  more  nutritious.    And  do  we   really  need  those  store-­bought  muffins  or  could  I  easily  whip   up  a  batch  of  my  own  (but  minus  the  rancid  oils,  white  flour  and  sugar,  preservatives,  etc.)  and  have  a  fun  morning  with   my  5  year  old?  Those  out-­of-­season  peaches  for  $3.50  a  lb  in   May  might  look  awfully  tempting,  but  I  could  buy  a  whole  lot   more  seasonal  rhubarb  and  strawberries  for  the  same  amount   of  money.

It  helps  me  to  set  aside  money  for  larger  purchases,  such  as  a   side  of  grass-­fed  beef  or  buying  organic  grains  in  bulk  or   purchasing  berries  in  the  summer.  By  going  through  my  cash   at  the  beginning  of  the  month  and  separating  it  for  savings,  for   my  raw  milk  share,  for  my  co-­op  order,  and  then  only  spending  what’s  remaining  on  other  groceries  and  produce,  I  can   ensure  that  I’m  actually  using  my  budget  the  way  that  I  plan  to   rather  than  running  on  auto-­pilot  and  finding  that  I’m  coming   up  short  at  the  end  of  each  month.

Do you use cash for your grocery budget? Why or why not?

Post taken from my newest book, Real Food on a Real Budget. Find out more about how you can save money and still eat real, whole, nourishing foods!

Image by francoiskarm