It is a published fact that people on average spend more when they are using their debit cards. Just do a Google search and you'll find numerous articles on the Art of Overspending with a Debit Card.
I am the budget-keeper in our household. This is a weighty responsibility for me, as I never really was one to balance my checkbook (back in the days when we all had checkbooks to balance). I have always been more of a "I'm pretty sure I have that in my account" kind of gal. And, I usually did. This was back when I was single and had no family to take care of.
Fast forward several years, and I have the same attitude, but with a debit card. My kind of bookkeeping is dangerous to one with a debit card. Groceries are $208 and I only have $140 in cash? No problem! Put it on the debit card. Later on, I marvel that I am still are walking around with $140 in my wallet and I haven't spent it yet. I believe they call this "delusional".
After doing a bit of research, I've decided to stop using my debit card at the grocery store for the entire month of February. Yes! Another 30 day challenge. I love them--they keep me on my toes! I am also severely restricting my budget. I don't know if anyone even reads my blog but if you do and you use Mint.com, you know what I am talking about when I say the fear of God was put into me when I noticed huge chunks of my monthly spending on the "pie chart" diagram was devoted to H-E-B, SuperTarget, and Walmart. I thought, with horror, that one family of four could not possibly spend $800 in January and $1200 in December....on GROCERIES??? I had to go back and look at my spending habits, so I reluctantly logged in to my bank account and re-traced my steps.
I began to notice a pattern.
I'd spend $175 at HEB and you can tell that's my weekly grocery shopping. Two days later, however, I'd be at SuperTarget picking up 1) things I can't get at HEB and 2) about a thousand other things I don't need. That bill would be a little lower, but still, between $40 and $80. That wasn't my only pattern; the other one was that one of us--either Matt or myself--was at a grocery store of some kind twice or three times a week. That's almost $300 on groceries a WEEK! And that doesn't count our trips to Costco, which effectively, run us about $300 for the month.
The debit card makes all of this possible for a spender like me. I have to reel myself in if I am to be the savior of our household accounts. So, I'm going to experiment.
$150 per week, cash only. Debit card stays home.
Costco is once a month, cash only, $200.
Coupons are acceptable but only for things I actually use (4 cans of Aqua-Net for $1 do not count)
I've already spent $50 at the grocery store this week. The guy looked at me like I was crazy when I was counting some coins out. I realized I must look like an old batty woman. I don't care, though. I earned my stripes and I will stand there and count what I must so that I can rehabilitate myself. He'll just have to wait!
Hey, patience is a virtue.