Posted By Paul
I heard a very interesting tip for budgeting that a friend of mine is using. The situation is that they are hoping to set up some real budget rules AND stick to them. Part of the work is that they want to dramatically reduce the amount of money they spend on meals out. This is a busy family with a child, so it's easy to pick up a dinner here or a lunch there.
So their plan is that they are going to determine how much they can spend on their meals out for the next 3 months and they are going to buy gift cards at the various restaurants they frequent that total that amount.
The idea is that once the gift cards are empty, then they're done eating out.
One downside to this system is that it assumes that you go to just a few restaurants, but I would bet that many busy families with children (especially if they have children that are picky eaters) could come up with a short list of restaurants that they go to 90% of the time.
Another downside is that if you come in under budget you can't turn the gift cards back into cash, but assuming that the gift cards are ways to set a limit and make sure you don't exceed it, then this isn't such a bad idea. I do like the fact that if you're not the kind of person who likes to save and track receipts, this system gives you a simple way to set a limit and stick to it.
I had never heard of this system before, has anyone else out there tried it?