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We have been withdrawing cash from the bank after we get paid (I got the idea from a Kidspot article I read) and have to live off that until our next pay. Our bills are all scheduled to come out of our bank account, so the cash just has to cover groceries, train fares, lunch orders, the cleaner, sushi and donuts when we go to the local market to top up our veggies
We have been doing this for three pay cycles now and what started out as being extremely restrictive has become surprisingly liberating. It was so hard to begin with; we almost ran out of money after my first grocery shop the first week! But we have gotten better at it.
I have been planning menus and creating shopping lists. Although I have always tried to do this, there are times when I just don't have time and race out to the grocery (and overspend!). I have also been more analytical about the contents of meals and have been trying to make seasonal meals from the same group of ingredients to reduce wastage.
I have been making more vegetarian meals again too. Before I had kids I was a semi-vegetarian for many years (I enjoyed bacon and chicken occasionally) so I have been pulling out a few of the old recipes to reduce our meat intake (good for the earth, good for your health, and good for your budget so a triple star win!). I am going for Meatless Monday (last night it was leek frittata) and another meat-free day too. Our kids have grown up eating legumes as a staple so they are coping well.
I have been paying cash at the register too so if I don't have enough money, I have to make decisions about which items go back. It happened twice in the first week (and was extremely embarrassing) but I have adapted quickly to adding up the bill as I go and have come in on budget at each subsequent shop.
The liberating part has been the fact that we already have a small stockpile of cash in the bank account. We went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night and didn't even have to think about how much it might cost. We just went and had a ball!
And paying our bills is so much easier. We have removed the stress of shuffling money around our accounts in the eternal search to make ends meet. With three kids in daycare two days a week and a couple of afternoons at OOSH for the other, you can imagine how much our monthly childcare bills are?
I can happily say that this six week stint will become the norm for us.
How do you manage your weekly bills?