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Monday, March 3, 2014

Grocery Buying Plan

a plan


While buying groceries cheaply is the whole idea, there is the danger that too much money can be spent during the course of the month, even when the groceries are bought cheaply. I am trying to discover how much I spend. During January I kept every receipt and taped them into a book. Then, I did nothing with them. This ploy did work to help me see a few things: what I spent on each item, where I shopped, and what might be in the refrigerator so I would not rebuy another bag of salad.

I heard of someone who put all her grocery money on a gift card and spent from that until it was gone. For about six months I have been thinking of doing the same. In February I bought a Walmart gift card. Walmart gift cards incur no initial card purchase. However, if this helped saved money by not spending too much each month, it might be worth the $3.49 card charge to buy a Visa gift card. You may disagree.

Buying a Walmart gift card ties me to Walmart for purchases. Since I do price-matching for most of my grocery shopping, this is not a problem. Allocating another $30 cash for additional purchases gives me the leeway to shop elsewhere. Out of that $130 I do stock up purchases like the Cokes of last week.

When I bought the card in February, I spent all the money on the card within 9 days. Then, I realized that I had bought non-food items on the card. Rats. Towards the end of the month, I did buy essentials and the Cokes with other money. This month I have been more careful. Okay, so there have only been three days...lol. However, yesterday I sorted the items on the counter, paying for food and non-food separately.

My goal is eventually to get non-food purchases down to $30/month.  From a cursory glance at the receipts I taped in my book, I am spending nearer to $200 each month on food and non-food store purchases. I won't buy lesser quality food, but I can buy less of the higher-priced junk food. Having lost weight this last two weeks makes that easier.

It's going to be hard to keep purchases within this goal. I really need more money in my life or a garden! Maybe I could use both. But, until I figure that one out, this is the plan--the card. Oh, yeah. I have to sort items into food and non-food.

Even if I bought the Visa card in order not to be tied into Walmart shopping only, the card cost might be worth it if I were being more careful with purchases. The Walmart card can be reloaded free of charge. I believe the Visa Card can be reloaded for less than the initial purchase price.

Your turn
What do you think of the card plan? Goofy? A useful tool for control? Have you ever heard of anyone doing this? How did it work out?

14 comments:

  1. the problem with the prepaid visa cards is most o0f the time they charge you per use as well as a monthly fee also if you reload money on it theres some sort of fee

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    1. Cindy,
      I did read some of the rules, but did not even consider that right now. Thanks.

      Delete
  2. It sounds like it is worth a try at least. When I first left home my father insisted that for a month I wrote down every cent I spent, what it was for, and why I bought it. It showed me very clearly how much 'discretionary' spending I was doing.

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    1. The first month with the card, I learned what I was doing wrong--buying nonfood with my food card. I like this better than trying to keep the food money from mixing with other money in my purse.

      That seems like a very reasonable way to learn your own habits. It's good your father had you write all purchases down.

      Delete
  3. For that very reason I am lumping food and non-food in a dual category that I call food/household. It is really simplifying my budget. I am also trying to lower the expenditure this year. In January I spent an average of $50 per day (we have 9 in our family). In February we spent an average of $35 per day, but I was out of town for 9 days. I find if I complicate it too much I won't stick to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. viewfrommyyard,
      I almost fainted when I read "$50" but I understood when I came to "9 in family." I can see how it uncomplicates things. Yes, too complicated causes me to quit. For your family size, $50 seems reasonable but could probably be lowered. Well, I may put the two categories back together after a few months of this. Before, I just kept up with the separates categories very loosely when they were bought together.

      Delete
  4. I do the shopping. Yes, it may sound strange for me, and not my whoa-man to shop. But, I've always been the shopper. I use 3 different stores, just like the old days. Each one has different items I may need through the course of a menu/list. One for household items, laundry, dish soap, non-food items. One for meat and the other for sales that may, or may not be better than the other two. A spare, if you will, to keep the others honest. HA! I keep up with weekly sales and visit the store with the lowest price.

    I make my list and follow it! My rule is; once I leave the house, that's what I get. Nothing else. On the occasion the whoa-man goes with me, (a minuscule chance/million to one shot) I may change my rule. But usually, not. I may be persuaded if it is really needed and forgotten to be placed on the list but, most of the time (even when I'm alone) "If it ain't on the list, it doesn't get bought.

    These past few months, I haven't been as stringent with list following. I need to get back at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike,
      No, it does not sound strange, just not the rule. It sounds like you have a good plan. Yes, I will shop several stores, actually going inside, but price matching works most of the time. I will go off the list if I make one for only one reason--unadvertised specials. Sometimes I find meat marked down and buy way over budget, but it pays off when I can afford the special. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  5. I've started using the cash method for groceries/HH items, but luckily I have a cash wallet that separates my money so there's not mixing. So no gift card needed for me. My budget (just me) is $200/month for food & HH items.

    What are your biggest expenses, both non-food items, junk good (you mentioned in your post), etc?

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    Replies
    1. tlc,
      I rejected the idea of putting money in envelopes years ago. The card works better for me. Regular food is the biggest expense for me. I don't eat that much junk food, but I am horrified when I do.

      Delete
  6. We use a Discover credit card for all purchases for the reward points and pay it off every month. I've been tracking purchases - everything for the past 6 months. We have a $400/month grocery budget that does include household. What I've found is that usually 1/3 of our purchases are not used in the month they were purchased. For instance, in Jan we bought a package of cube steaks (all meat/poultry is purchased on clearance) that had 6. We only have beef once a month and I don't eat it. Therefore that package of 6 will last 6 weeks or until the middle of Feb. Same for TP, dish liquid, detergent, shampoo, etc. Altho this sounds complicated it really isn't as for the month of Feb we bought no meat/poultry so our food/household spending was only $315. The difference is transferred to another account for paying yearly bills, like car insurance & registration, taxes, and making extra payments on Visa debt that was incurred for a major purchase last year.
    We do most of our shoppiing at Walmart and use the price matching, at Sam's for certain items that have better prices plus their rotisserie chicken (5 meals each) and at Amazon (Prime for free shipping) for the best prices on a number of items like shelf stable tofu & almond flour - I"m diabetic and use it for pancakes. It takes some time to price comparing but saves us money on the purchases and gas since we don't have to go to multiple stores.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bellen,
    That's a good plan. I price match for two reasons: sometimes the stores are 50 miles from me that I can use to price match. Plus, Many local stores don't have an electric cart or only two carts for the store. Thanks for the comment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Linda,

    I do not use card plans. I just go to who has the specials on. I also risk my life by going to the "reduced price" section at the supermarkets. The "old rage" pensioners do their best to block me off!

    Gary :)

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    Replies
    1. Gary,
      You bet! us old people have to keep you young whippersnappers from getting our cheap groceries. I always go the clearance table/aisles/shelves and get some great bargains. If I have a coupon, even better. Then, it may be almost free. Oh, I try to keep even the oldtimers out of my way if they are mean.

      Delete

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