I've always had a budget, I'm not even sure I could function without one. The problem is I have a habit of thinking "it's just 50 cents more than I planned on", "I'll just get it now instead" Right about now you're probably admitting you've been known to say the same things. Welcome to the club :)
I figured there had to be a simpler way. Keeping track of my grocery and gas transactions for the month can be a pain, I really don't want to deal with the checkbook daily if I don't have to. I've heard people talk about using cash in envelopes but I hate the idea of that..it's just not safe. So off I went to find something that suited me. Turns out American Express has a (free) prepaid card called Serve. It has a few options to load cash to it but my favorite is to go to the ATM and then walk a few hundred feet to the Money Center at my local Walmart and load the money instantly onto my card. (There are other places you can do this too but I like this one). The best part about this card is the sub-accounts that come with their own card. Brilliant! So that means that my "food" card is completely different from my "gas" card. A few clicks on their app and I can move funds from one to the other according to my budget. Outstanding! Keeping track is easy..look at the bottom of your receipt :) I have another method. Ya' know those checkbook registers you get with your checkbooks? (the ones you never use) I took one and labeled it "food" and "gas" on the other. I put mine where you're supposed to keep cash. Then I just keep track...very simple and they fit perfectly. There's zero chance of overspending into bill money!
So how does this simplify things? Well it's easy..I do my budget as usual and then go to the ATM and take out the entire food and gas budget for that pay period out. Then I load it to the cards.. When I do my bookkeeping for the rest of the pay period/month I now only have one entry for the two major headaches. Now all I have in the register is the bills, small automatic transfer to savings,other budgeted items and the one ATM transaction (instead of a bunch of small transactions). Simple. In order to stay on budget there should be nothing else!
Does it work?? Yes! I was out shopping and got everything on my list..I also got on autopilot shopping picked up cereal (that I didn't need). It took me a second to realize my checkout amount was $5 over my budgeted amount but still within my card limit. That little voice in my head said to just go home, so what if you were over..you'll just buy it next week..no worries. No! The whole point is to stay on budget and the list, not make excuses.. so I walked right from the cashier to customer service and returned the cereal. It felt good to be back on track! I'll buy it next week,when it's on the list. :)
Stockpiling will come later..right now it's all about creating new habits.