Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Envelope Budgeting & Aldi Love


We got allll these groceries for less than $50! We discovered Aldi and it has changed my life. I was talking about this at work and everyone was like ... yes, where have you been? IN THE DARK. BUYING EXPENSIVE GROCERIES.

Look closely ... pineapple, avocadoes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, whipping cream, pepperoni, an embarassing amount of cream cheese, coconut milk, frozen chicken, noodles, english muffins, celery, pancake syrup, crescent rolls, butter, block cheese, carrots, 3 DiGiorno pizzas, tortillas ... I can't tell what is off to the left. Milk? We are apparently really into dairy products.

This is 2+ weeks of food for us!

This year we've been trying the envelope system for some of our budgeting. I use the term "budgeting" loosely and people with legit budgets are probably aghast. But. My problem with most of the budgeting strategies I've read about is that they want you to write everything down.

Let's be real. I could put a color-coded, pretty-fonted printout in a binder and probably would never make it a month actually recording everything I spent. Even if I did by some miracle comply, there is Jon. He is not into compliance with color-coded pretty-fonted things. And what about when I go to Target and get groceries AND a sundress and hand soap with pears on the bottle and sparkly thumbtacks? I would have to do math.

How the system works for us:

1. At the beginning of the month, put your budgeted amount of cash in designated envelopes.
We are trying $200 for groceries and $50 for "flex" money (which is basically things we don't need ... like clothes, going out, and sparkly thumbtacks).
That's it! If you run out of money, eat things from the freezer or the pantry and plan more carefully next month! So plan ahead and spend carefully.
Just one step? Oh.

2. Stop going to Target.

So far this has been working for us! Well. Mostly.

We always spend our flex money within the first week, but I'm hesistant to increase the amount in that envelope because we'll just spend that too.

We do pretty good with grocery money but it does get a little short if we have a lot of people over. Also, in January we went to a movie using grocery money and then ran out the last week and had to spend some of February's ahead. No more of that.

As far as paying down our highest interest student loan, it's slowly disappearing!
Beginning Balance: $27,125.21
Current Balance: $16,299.95
Percent Remaining: 60.1%

I'm so proud of that! Mostly that was money we saved up when I was getting paid a little more and we were living in Jon's parent's basement. Here's to going strong the rest of the year! (And the rest of the loans).

Are you keeping your resolutions? Do you have a smarter system than cash envelopes that works for you? Does your grocery store make you giddy? I hope so :)

** I'm hoping to post pictures of our painting marathon soon! My camera is still lost, and I am trying to make iPhone pictures cut it. Fail.

** Update: See painting marathon before and afters here


  1. I think $200 is pretty reasonable. That is our food budget ("budget", we're flexible too) as well, and I think our food generally costs less here so we can feed 3 big mouths and 2 little mouths with that.

    Mint.com is our budgeting. We don't have to record anything

    Of course, then there is the current greenhouse/fish/PVC pipes budget eating up all the extra money!

    1. We have mint.com set up too! However, it just told me how much I had spent and didn't cut me off if I was overspending :)

  2. I've been wanting to move to an envelope budgeting system. I had one a long time ago, but am wanting to get to paying for more things with cash and think this would be good for us in some categories. With bank fees, credit/debit card fees, and such - I can see where we'd save money right there.

    Sounds like you're off to a good start.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I was really hesitant to go to cash, since cards are more convenient and we pay them off every month. For us, having a visible amount of cash has been helpful in both keeping track of how much we have spent and avoiding impulse buys.


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