Gift Card Budgeting

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This one works great! Hubby pointed out that he saw big fluctuations from month to month on our grocery spending. I've decided that $400 should be enough for a month of groceries.


On the first of each month, I go to my favorite grocery store and purchase a gift card for $300. I also buy gift cards for other stores (pharmacy, Target, Walmart) which will equal $100. So at the end of the month the tally should only be $400.

Take out any credit cards or checks from your purse/wallet and only have the gift card as an option to spend money. This forces you to only spend as much as the amount on the gift card. You could also divide your gift cards so the amount is what you need on a weekly basis and only take "this week's card.

If you think you may over spend or go to a store that you haven't bought a gift card, write ONE check, and put in the To: section the Store/Vendor name. That will limit you from wandering into different stores and buying impulsively. Leave all other checks and gift cards at home.


It works because you cannot spend over your budget and you can't buy anything from another store impulsively. If you must have a certain thing from a certain store, put one check in your wallet with the name of the store already filled out. If you have only gift card, you must add up the cost of the groceries or perhaps "put things back". I usually count, rounding most prices "up" instead of down. Not having enough $ at the register might be make you feel embarrassed so you will probably stick to your list.

This can be used for gasoline or other specialty stores. Most stores have some type of gift card available.

By Bella Swan from Forks, WA

August 18, 20090 found this helpful

That is just a great idea. We have a store (or a few stores) where you get 20 cents off a gallon of gas for every $50 you spend. So, I could buy $50 gift cards, get 20 cents off for gas and have the gift cards to buy groceries. Thanks for the heads up. I hope you win.

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August 25, 20090 found this helpful

That's a great tip. I have trouble budgeting because my husband's paycheck varies a lot - he's paid mostly on commission. I might be able to put a larger amount on a gift card when his paycheck is big, but limit how much I spend, and then use the rest to fill in the gaps during a tighter week.

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