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Extreme Couponing Tip: Benefit by Paying Cash at the Grocery Store

Extreme Couponing Tip: Benefit by Paying Cash at the Grocery Store

Need a little extra help controlling or keeping track of your grocery budget? Try out a cash-only system!

1. Know the Benefits

Only using cash at the store can help in many ways, the biggest being you can’t spend what you don’t have! It helps to see what you have on hand and what you can spend, thus increasing budgeting skills and self control. If you’ve been paying with a credit card, using cash will help reduce the amount of interest charged. Additionally, stores have to pay a fee for every card transaction, so you’ll save them money by only paying cash. And when the store saves, they won’t have to raise their prices as often to cover the costs, saving you money in the long run.

2. Establish a Grocery Budget

Go over your past receipts or bank statements and see how much you are currently paying per week or month at grocery stores. To curb unneeded impulse buying or over-purchasing, take the average you have spent and see what you can trim. Remember not to reduce what you spend drastically all at once, but gradually work your way down, utilizing your stockpile while supplementing with fresh produce, bread, dairy, and protein. Find an amount you and your family are comfortable with and withdraw that in cash.

3. Divide and Conquer!

Decide on what timetable you would like to separate your cash into. You can choose weekly, every other week, or monthly divisions, whichever suits your needs best. The most popular option tends to be a bimonthly system since it corresponds with paychecks. Some weeks can be more expensive than others, and if left to a monthly sum, the last week’s amount may be comparatively meager. Take the allotted cash and place it in an envelope or paper clip together in your wallet/ purse. Only spend money from that amount at the grocery store and after several weeks, you can adjust the amount to fit your needs, if needed.

If you have an aversion to loose change, either look for a donation box at checkout, or start a change jar at home and use it for fun money at the end of the month.

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24 thoughts on “Extreme Couponing Tip: Benefit by Paying Cash at the Grocery Store”

  1. I am a HUGE advocate of using the cash system. We started doing this several years ago and have saved tons of money! Within about a year we had cut our grocery spending by about $100 a month.
    It really works well, as mentioned, to split the money (bi-monthly, weekly etc.) and only take with you what you are allowed to spend. Then you are not carrying lots of cash around, if that is a worry. Great article!!!

  2. Lovin Summer says:

    I’ll stick with using my credit card for the rewards points, never pay the interest fee as we pay our card bill in full EVERY month, so why not take advantage of the savings AND rewards?? It’s a win win for us!

  3. Anonymous says:

    About a year ago,for the first time in over 20 years I got a credit card, with a 500.00 limit.  Regardless of how much I spend on it, I pay the entire balance every month.  The whole idea was to see if I could learn to control my spending.  Cash flies out of my wallet much too easily and you don’t realize you’ve spent it til it’s all gone, then then you’re in trouble.  When you pay off the entire balance, there are usually no fees.  I’ve not paid a fee yet, and I don’t think my 72 year old mother has ever paid a credit card fee. I do pay cash for transactions less than 5.00 though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I use debit card most of the time. I have it fixed where I can’t go over. No money no purchase. I like to use my debit card in case I find a great markdown. Wal-mart had hoodies marked down to $3.00 that were $26.95 each. I put one up for a Christmas present.

  5. Earl Rogelio says:

    I use this system weekly and it works well.  Also, I have a change jar in my bedroom where I unload all my change when I get home, and it adds up quickly.  Its nice for little things like renting a movie for the family, etc.
     

  6. Aj Lee says:

    What a great article for pro cash!

    Seems like everybody here does the change in a jar thing. I’m the opposite I don’t like having change so I try and use it every time if I have any.

    I also try to take a little more cash of what I need, so I don’t bring my wallet into the store.

    It always helps to have a shopping list and the total amount it costs.

    I’m going to start using a credit card again, this time with the cash back!
    I can’t wait to see how much I get back at the end of the year.

    I carry a little notebook with me to keep track of my spending.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have been using cash for about 1 1/2 years. I make a list with coupons mentioned at each item so I know how much I need before I leave. We keep our full change jar in the gun safe (very large) along with our allotted monthly grocery cash. We have a new jar that sits on our desk and all change goes into it. We are saving it for when we are desperate.I do however bring about $10 extra when I shop should I run into sales that I cannot pass up.Since I shop alone and am not impulsive this works very well for me. If I go over, I still have a few dollars in my checking account should I need it. At the beginning of the month I withdraw cash from the bank (pension) until my checking account is almost empty.Sometimes my list is very short towards the end of the month since I have already purchased the coupon items. My pantry is full thanks to couponing. So far, we have not run out of cash for shopping. If at the end of the month I have a little left over it is used for the next month or saved for something else. (Like when my car battery died!!!)
    Husband has a credit card that is great with rewards so he uses that for everything else but everyday bills. He also pays it off monthly before interest is charged and even over pays when he knows the next month will be lean with work or heavy on bills. (contractor).
    I don’t use loyalty cards and so I can also fly under the radar as to who has information on me. Yeah, I know I could save a few dollars but so far with Wal_Mart ad matching I have been doing just fine.

  8. Amanda Bloomfield says:

    I started doing this about a year ago and it really does help save money.  I used to be one of those people who shopped with a credit card and paid it off every month.  I thought I was doing myself a favor because I would get the credit card points or cash back.  But, even if you think you are disciplined, you always spend less with cash.  It really helps with impulse purchases.  Mcdonalds did a study once comparing the purchases made at the restaurant with cash vs. credit/debit card machines.  People spend 12-18% more using cards. 

    • Heidi Marlow says:

      You are totally right.  Credit card companies are the smartest, most aggressive marketers.  They know that people spend more when they pay with plastic.  It really won’t help a person in the long run if he or she spends 12-18% more with a credit card than they would with cash in order to get 5% cash back.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder how this survey would look if done with frugal-minded people like most of us KCLs ;) I agree that I would never advocate someone using credit cards instead of cash if they are watching every single penny or know they are prone to impulse purchases!
      Even if I switched to cash I think I would keep a credit card for monthly bills like cable, cell phone, etc. so I could at least get the cash back for regular bills.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m kind of the opposite. I put everything on my credit card because I get 1-5% cashback (depending on the store). That only works, of course, if you can budget and make sure you have the money to pay off your card at the end of the month, which we always do :)

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m the same as you Kristen. I love knowing that I’m earning 5% cash back on my groceries. Of course, I agree the only way this works to your advantage is if you pay off the credit card every month.

    • Anonymous says:

      About a year ago,for the first time in over 20 years I got a credit card, with a 500.00 limit.  Regardless of how much I spend on it, I pay the entire balance every month.  The whole idea was to see if I could learn to control my spending.  Cash flies out of my wallet much too easily and you don’t realize you’ve spent it til it’s all gone, then then you’re in trouble.  When you pay off the entire balance, there are usually no fees.  I’ve not paid a fee yet, and I don’t think my 72 year old mother has ever paid a credit card fee. I do pay cash for transactions less than 5.00 though.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cash only spending isn’t for everyone, so if you can use credit wisely, that’s a great way to build a good credit history! 

  10. i always calculate everything in my cart if i dont like the amount i put a few things back it always helps to know how much you are spending before checking out  but i am a free girl if its not under .75 cents i wont buy it anymore  i love free stuff with overage i always try and get more for less  we have a change boxs and always put most in there i keep some in my change purse  but we use it as rainy day money at last count i think we were at $40 it adds up fast and you dont even miss it

  11. Not only that, cash transactions keep costs down for the store.  This in turn, keeps your costs down.

  12. Lexa Power says:

    I think this would be awesome! But I worry about carrying cash because I take public transportation and often walk alone at night. I had my purse stolen once and lost 90 dollars. For me debit is usually safer although I always lose track of how much I am spending. Wish there was a happy medium for that situation. I usually shop at Target so I’m thinking the Target Red Debit card is a good idea for me.

    • Stacy Pease says:

       The Target Red Debit Card works well – you get 5% off all of your purchases and the money comes right out of your bank account.  Only downside is that it usually takes 3-4 days for the $ to pull from your account.

      •  It depends on the bank…I’ve heard a lot of people comment on the amount of time it takes, and some say theirs come out in “lump sums”, but mine have always come out in 24 hours. I use a small, local bank so maybe that’s the difference???

    • Anonymous says:

      Another good option is purchasing a monthly gift card if you shop at one store the majority of the time. 

  13. I am not a fan of change so everyday I come home and put my change in my daughter’s piggy bank, brings us about 20 bucks a week for “fun time”..we love it..thanks for the informative post!

    • Amber Leis says:

      My husband and I also put our change in a piggy bank – but for our son!  We then take it to the bank when it’s full and put it in his savings account :)