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.
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?