Katie’s Financial Wellness Tips: The Food Budget

When the cash in your food money is gone, IT’S GONE. And that goes for all the other categories! You can’t take from the House because, if you’ve done your budget well, that money will be spent on other necessities! And you can take from the Kid Activity envelope, cuz that’s just mean. 😉

When I go to Safeway on payday, I go up to the counter with my trusty iPhone calculator in hand. If I know I have $200 for Food and $100 for House, I have $300 already typed in my calculator. When the total comes up, I tell the cashier I’m making it for an even $300, and I subtract my total from the $300, leaving me with my exact amount that will keep me in budget! I use the “Cash Back: ‘Other'” option and type that amount in. Then I divide the money into my envelopes.

{Tip: Safeway is the only place I’ve found that I can get my full Cash Back amount. Lucky’s is limited to $60 (if memory serves), Target is limited to $40, and WinCo lets you get $100 back at a time.}

When I first started this process, I would do two things:

  1. I’d carry my cell phone calculator through the store and add up my purchases as I went. At first, I had to be really careful, and often had to put things back, because I knew that $200 had to last for a full two weeks (sometimes 3 weeks in 5 week months!). I had to train myself to think of the things I put in my cart differently. Now, I can stay in my budget without doing that.
  2. I’d do separate transactions for my food stuff and my house stuff (and take out the remaining envelope money during it’s respective transaction). Now, I quickly calculate how much the TP is going to cost me and I just mentally subtract that from the House envelope.

I’ve also learned to put a little money aside in that first week so I know I have money to buy milk and produce. When my first week’s shopping is done, I earmark $20-$40 for that purpose. Then, money left over is how much I have to plan my 2nd week menu and stockpile.

Did you enjoy this post and feel an itch to learn more about how we plan our spending and how we paid off $77,232.88 in 28 months? Then you’ll want to read the other posts in this series:
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