Thoughts on our first cash-only weekend

We made it through our first cash-only weekend! It has been quite a challenge, but it’s actually been fun! Here are some highlights:


We didn’t use our debit cards once! The only money we spent was from the $90 we withdrew on Saturday.

We also didn’t go over budget! After buying groceries and seeing a matinee, we have $20 left. This is the exact amount we budgeted for household expenses. Because we didn’t need any household items this week, we’ll hang on to that $20 for a later week when we’ll inevitably need more than $20 for necessary household expenses.

The biggest victory is that I’m not dreading our bottom line. Most weekends, I cringe when I look at Mint the following week and see how much we spent. This week, I know exactly how much we spent, and I know we didn’t blow our budget. Yay!


This afternoon, the weather was beautiful and I felt the urge to go out to lunch someplace with patio seating. Because we didn’t have cash for it in the budget, we didn’t go. It was tough, though.

Instead, we took a drive to the beach, walked the dog around a nearby lake, and got some work done. In the end, our choice was healthier for us physically and financially, so I’d say our cash-only budget is having positive effects beyond our bank accounts.


We technically didn’t follow our own rules. Because we were $9 under budget for groceries, we should have ended the weekend with $29 in pocket. Part of the deal was that we would hang on to extra cash if we went under budget for later weeks or something fun at the end of the summer. Instead of hanging on to it, we spent an extra $4 over our entertainment budget because the new Pixar movie “Up” wasn’t playing at the cheap theater. We also picked up a couple extra items at the grocery store for $3 total.

After a weekend of success (with our cash-only budget and with my diet), I was seriously craving ice cream. But I couldn’t bear to break the $20 bill that had survived the weekend. I had $1 in my pocket, plus we had change scattered around the house and in the car. We scrounged together $2.50 and headed to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream sandwiches.

While it was technically cheating, it was definitely the most fun we’ve had on a cash budget. Working hard to scrounge together the money for that ice cream made it that much sweeter, and knowing that we could only spend $2.50 limited our choices.

My unwillingness to part with that $20 bill already shows a change in how I’m viewing money, particulary cash. In the past, I would have viewed that as “extra money” already removed from our account. Now I view it as “household expenses” money that we’ll most likely need in a future week. I didn’t want to spend it, because I knew we would probably need it later to avoid using our debit cards.

If we had gone to the grocery store to pick up ice cream with our debit cards, we might have spent $4 on specialty ice cream instead of the store-brand ice cream sandwiches we chose. I hate to admit it, but when it’s only $4 coming from our bank account instead of breaking a whole $20 bill, I would have been much more likely to spend it. Those little purchases add up, though, which is the reason we’re trying this experiment.

Overall, I think our first weekend was a success! And so far we’re having fun. It’s certainly changing the way we view money. I’m looking forward to more challenges and successes for the next three months. Stay tuned!

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on our first cash-only weekend

  1. Kacie

    Wow! Looks like using cash really does help you spend less than if you used debit. That’s really something.

    I think if you find money in your couch cushions or in your car somewhere, it’s fair game to use however you want. It’s not like it was earning interest in those nooks, ya know?

    Kacie’s last blog post..Quick mentions

  2. Sharon

    You were much more successful than me! Good for you…I have $32.00 to take me until Sunday…this has been hard! I’m enjoying following your success, it will keep me going!

    Sharon’s last blog post..The envelope holds…

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