We live 5 miles away from my mom. We’re there at least once a week for dinner and often drop by just to say hello. We pass four of my mom’s most frequented stores along the way. Because of that, she often asks us to pick up things on our way over – a bunch of bananas, a loaf of bread, coffee creamer, or a prescription. I don’t mind. A few trips to the store hardly repays all the things she’s done for me during my lifetime.
Six month into our move to TN we started reassessing our grocery spending and I noticed one very correctable trend. Every time we stopped at the store for mom, we bought something ourselves. Sometimes it was warranted. Most times we were buying something because we had no cash and debiting just $1.09 for bananas seemed ridiculous. And to top it off, we would often use mom’s cash reimbursement for other things, like dining out.
So I created the Mom-velope.
At the beginning of January, I tucked $20 in an envelope and put it in my purse. When we shop for my mom, the money comes from the Mom-velope. When she pays us back, the money goes back into it. So far, we’ve used the Mom-velope for 2 banana runs and a trip to the Dollar General for dryer sheets. On none of these occasions did we buy anything extra.
From September through December, we averaged spending $460 per month on groceries and household items. That’s a 150% increase over the largest grocery month we had in 2014 (when we lived in Florida). I know taxes are insanely high in Tennessee but even that doesn’t account for such a dramatic jump. The only thing I can attribute it to is poor planning. We’ve gotten away from simple shopping.
Having the Mom-velope discourages us from buying our groceries off-schedule. It also helps us better track our own grocery spending. Sure it’s a funny name for purposeful spending but at this point, I’m game for trying anything to save money.