Monday, February 28, 2011

February's Cash Only Experiment Report

I have to say that I loved doing this cash-only experiment this month. I'm going to continue on in March, but I wanted to mark down the results from February:

I was under my grocery budget by $13, under my clothing budget by $15, and under my household budget by $38 for a total savings of $86! I decided to add some of this overage to next month (especially since March is a long month for me as a tax widow!) and I took out $20 to put toward our San Diego vacation. This $20 will show up in my savings for next month.

I was able to "cash out" three giftcards this month. When I used a gift card, I took the cash out of my envelope for that category and put it in my savings jar. This allowed me to add $50 to our San Diego trip.

Every time I got change back from a purchase, I put the coins in my savings jar. This past Saturday I took one of my daughters with me to cash in the coins at a Coinstar machine. If you choose to receive a giftcard instead of cash, there is no counting fee. I chose an Amazon gift card and ended up getting $12.35 from my spare change! I took $13 out of my grocery budget to put in our savings jar and used the gift card to buy wipes on Amazon. With the gift card, my out of pocket expense was only $0.02!

We got our "big fat check" from Ebates this month: $40.05. That money went into the savings jar. We also got our rebate check from our American Express card (that we have through Costco). I was shocked to see our rebate was $263.00! That money also went right into the savings jar.

The only downside was that I did use my credit card for some things (like Costco) and just took the cash out of my envelope and set it aside. We decided not to redeposit this extra cash at the end of the month only to have to turn around and withdraw cash at the beginning of the month, so all the cash I saved will be redistributed into our envelopes for March and we will see the savings from February at the end of March. (We use Microsoft Money to keep track of our budgeting.) Not a big deal in the long run, but it did make us a little cash poor this first month.

So in summary, here is what I was able to save in my first month at this cash-only experiment:
  • $50 from "cashing out" gift cards
  • $13 from saving spare change
  • $263 from credit card rebate
  • $40.05 from Ebates
...for a grand total of: $366.05!

The total cost for our hotel stay in San Diego is $610. So with the savings from this month's experiment, I have already covered more than 1/2 the cost! I am so excited to start saving in March!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cash-only experiment begins!

Remember when I tried to do my version of the cash-only experiment? It worked "okay" but then the holidays started sneaking up on me and I totally cast aside my coupons and deals and forgot about the importance of budgets.

Then, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to eat better: healthier, purer, happier food. (Well, stuff that makes me all those things.) And that kind of food is expensive, especially when you don't try to plan your all.

So, here we are at the beginning of February and I've decided to take the plunge into the Cash Only pool. Here's how it's going to work:

*One envelope of cash for groceries for the 1st through the 15th of the month.
*A second envelope of cash for groceries for the 16th through the end of the month.
*An envelope of cash for what we call "household" items: books, ink, stamps, and pillows are just a few examples of things that fall into this category.
*Finally, an envelope of cash for clothing purchases.

I chose not to have a grocery money envelope for each week because I don't like trying to figure out how much money to put in each week, especially when it's a week with fewer than 7 days. This way, I just take my monthly budget and divide it in half. Done.

We are taking a trip to San Diego in April to visit my husband's family for Easter. So I've decided that any extra money that I get (through savings, rebates, etc.) will go into a little fund for that trip, to help defray the costs.

In the spirit of full disclosure, here are the amounts for each envelope:
*Grocery #1: $240
*Grocery #2: $240
*Household: $100
*Clothing: $100

I'll be posting updates with my progress to let you know what type of things I can get on this budget and how much I can save toward our San Diego trip!


For those of you wondering if we are still going on our European Tour...well, plans have changed a bit. Two of the friends are now pregnant and won't be able to take their babes out of their respective countries until later in the summer, when one friend will be returning to the States. It looks like there will be a scheduling conflict for all four of us to be together at one time. However, we are still trying to make a trip to Europe to visit those friends who will still be there this summer. I'll keep you posted.

Here and there

It seems that I feel blogging has to be an "all or nothing" deal. Either I'm fully into posting my thoughts or I'm fully into mommy-hood...and of course being a mommy trumps all other endeavors.

But I've decided that I'm not going to beat myself up about some breaks in between posts. I'm still trying to find the balance that comes with three small children! I hope you will still come and visit from time to time.