Desperate Measures For Grocery Budgeting

Quite a few people set a budget for groceries they believe is totally reasonable, and yet they cannot manage against it. There is always something that prevents it.

If you are truly desperate to keep yourself inline, here is a surefire tip:

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a fan of gift cards, but in this case they are a must.

First, determine what your budget is for the week. Say it’s $100 a week, $400 a month.

Go to the one store with the best sales and deals, and coupons, whatever you have to work with. Or a few select stores. Purchase gift cards for the budget. You can get one $100 card each week, or 4 $100 cards each month. And you don’t have to do it ahead of time; you can walk up to the counter, purchase the card, walk back out to your car and lock up your wallet.

Very seriously here. Do not enter back into the store with any form of payment other than the prepaid card. No cash, no credit cards.

Bring a cell phone if you like, most have calculators, or you can call your SO to help choose priorities. But as you fill the cart, remember that you cannot go over, and you have no means to pay more than your budget.

If you know that you always forget something, and must go back to pick up items later, save $10 or whatever on the card (i.e., you can only spend $90, to keep $10 on the card for emergencies in the week).

Now the good news is, if you are under budget, you can apply that money to the next week. If you go over, force yourself to put something back.

For those who keep a stockpile, and a separate budget for that, again, keep a prepaid card and only charge against that for the stockpile. It will keep your weekly budget separate and manageable, and also help you see how you are managing the stockpile budget.

The cards don’t have to be store specific, they can be any kind of pre-paid debit card. But they have to be cut off limit, no exceeding, and the store cards tend to force you to stay focused on that one bill. Running around to more stores, shopping lots of different ads and sales, can be highly effective for stockpiling, but can kill a weekly budget by not recognizing all the little things that are adding up. If you want to shop for a FEW things at a second store, again, give yourself a specific budget on the card, or a separate card, and do not exceed.

It’s difficult. It may seem cruel. It may seem impossible. But when you force yourself to make choices, you start managing your budget.

After a few weeks, decide if your budget is realistic. If it is, are you able to start managing it without restraints? Keep going until you find the right budget or the right shopping habits.

Above all else, do not treat the cards as gift cards, fake money that doesn’t count and you can add to. They are the ONLY money you get. No loose change, no cards, no wallet!

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1 Comment

  1. I just started doing this for Walmart. Since it’s just me right now, I budget $20 a week due to my planning my meals. The only problem I had was that I only purchased 1 card and put the whole amount on there so it was EASY to go over. I think I will try purchasing a seperate card for each week and only using that one.

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