Okay – this is truly a non-brainer and you’re probably thinking Why did I click on this link?, but this idea recently hit me like a ton of bricks and so just in case you’re as daft as me, you might appreciate it.
This month I have been seriously strapped for cash and so my daily trips through Starbucks drive-thru on the way to work as well as my lunches out and take-out dinner for the family was not going to cut it. I just simply wouldn’t be able to afford it. I had to ensure that I stuck to my budget as best as I could and that meant eating at home and using my grocery budget appropriately.
Now – you might be thinking Use the Dave Ramsey envelope method, stupid, but trust me, I do not have the self restraint to have an envelope of cash. I am incredible at rationalizing poor choices that fly in the face of will power. I needed something more.
So on a whim, at the beginning of the month, I came up with an idea…
Buy and use a grocery store gift card.
The main way this works for me is that if all of my food money is already tied up in the gift card, I have no choice but to go to the grocery store to get my food and beverages. Last month I spent $175 at Starbucks. This month, I only spent $25.
Speaking of Starbucks, that’s kind of how I got this idea. You see, I’d been refilling my Starbucks gold card in $25 increments as needed. Knowing I had money on the card is usually why I went there for breakfast.
At my preferred grocery store, there are a lot of perks that go beyond just sticking to my budget. First, when I buy gift cards, I get double the gas rewards (up to $1/gallon off). Sometimes they run specials when gift card purchases are 4x the gas rewards. Since we get our gas there, that means I’m saving up to $12 or so at the pump.
On the gas front, I also save an additional $.10/gallon when I use the gift card to pay for gas. This applies to all cash purchases, but I don’t like to use my PIN at the gas station, so I usually select credit on my bank card.
Plus – my kid’s PTA sells grocery gift cards that are refillable and provide kickbacks to the school. How cool is that?
So, the day-to-day benefit to this is that most of my eating out money was gone. It was literally spent at my grocery store already, now I just had to go get the food. And that is my little tip to you.