The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Update!

prepaid grocery card experiment update

Last month, I wrote about how we were going to start a prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control. We’ve been doing the experiment for a month now, and today, I have an update for you on how things have been going.

As I mentioned in the first post we decided to use the Prepaid Visa® RushCard because of its clear fee structure and we can use it everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

At the beginning of the month I transferred the designated grocery budget amount onto the card online. That amount was $250. The one-time $3.95 fee for the cost of the physical card was deducted from our balance along with the $7.95 for the monthly fee of using the card (the fee would be $5.95 if we were directly depositing our paycheck…). That meant our starting budget went from $250 to $238.10.

Let’s talk about some of the PROS and CONS that we’ve encountered so far with using this system.

The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment Pros and Cons – So Far…

A little background… We keep track of our grocery list online using a shared list via a smartphone app so that makes things very easy when we’re already out and about and just so happen to be by a grocery store. We never have to stop by the house to pick up a paper grocery list or take a look at a dry erase white board that contains the list of things we need. We can easily pop into the store and get what we need and check items off the list as we go. Our lists on our phones sync up together and everything is always up to date. It’s incredibly awesome and efficient.

Before I go into the grocery store I check our remaining grocery budget online on the RushCard website. I saved the site icon to my phone home page so it’s super easy to see the balance right from the grocery store parking lot (a Pro!). The first time I checked I saw that I had $238.10 remaining, I did my shopping as usual, and checked out as I usually would any other time (a Pro!). Our prepaid card was updated with our new balance and life went on as usual. (a Pro!;)

Then, Aaron was at work and had to pick up some items at the grocery store on the way home. He was easily able to check the balance from his phone (a Pro!) but then he realized that the prepaid card was at home! (A con:/) That was a super bummer since it meant he had to change his plans to run home quick and pick up the card, or use his regular (non-prepaid) debit card like we used to do, and that would throw off the budget and our whole experiment. The Prepaid Visa® RushCard allows you to have up to four different Rush Cards at a time, so next time we’ll be sure to have two on hand for each of us to have. He decided to swing back by the house to pick up the card to keep things on track. However, that cost gas to have to do that and it was a total inconvenience (a Con:/). Had there been a way to access our shared prepaid card online then that would’ve been way more convenient with how we do our grocery shopping.

However! Apart from the snag of having to remember to always have the physical card with us we were able to stay on track with our grocery budget for the month! That’s not something we’ve been able to do in a while so I consider this first month of the experiment to be a major success!


Would you consider doing this experiment with us? Have you used a prepaid card before? Do you have any questions you want me to look into and explore?

This post is sponsored by the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Prepaid Visa® RushCard. I am an ambassador and have been compensated for my participation. However, like always, my opinions are completely my own (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).


14 thoughts on “The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Update!

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    1. Malea

      For me, just doing cash is sooooo tempting for other things and it is so much easier for me to go over budget in one area if I know I have cash in an envelope in another budget area.

      When I am getting super low budget-wise, I buy grocery store gift cards, or if I’m super broke, my dad has sent me grocery store gift cards. We get cards that are store-specific though rather than prepaid Visas or other similar cards that can be used elsewhere.

      Having a store-specific gift card with a definite limit helps me to be a lot more budget conscious when it comes to groceries. I pay a lot more attention to sale prices, what’s in season in terms of produce, what we need vs what we want, etc.

      It has worked really well for us. Plus, buying a store-specific gift card has NO fees other than the cost of the amount you put on the card and tax. The only fees come into play if you don’t use the card in a certain time frame (the last card I looked at was something like 6 months before fees started).

  1. Jacki

    I have considered using a store gift card for this very purpose. Since I plan to do a No Spend Month next month, this might be helpful in supporting that goal.

  2. Ella

    Sounds like something an old fashioned envelope with $250 cash could fix, and save you the $10+ in fees, no? That money could make you another 4-5 meals at least.

  3. Jessica

    Great idea, but if it costs $7.95 in fees every month, that means you are spending $95+ every year for the card.

  4. Clara

    Great post! I recently went on a European vacation and wanted to use a prepaid card to keep my spending on track. But I couldn’t tell if you can notify the card company of use overseas or if any of the prepaid visas have pdfi chips?

  5. Allison

    I would think it would be easier to either use a checking account (that you can check via mobile banking) or the envelope method. I can’t imagine spending money to save money…

  6. Mack

    Ive done something like this before, but with a store gift card. Its reloadable, convenient, and no maintenance fees. We have also split our monthly budget onto two cards so that both myself and my husband have one.

  7. Cass

    Has no one here heard of the budgeting software YNAB? (You need a budget) It’s like a virtual envelope system. No need to fuss with cash, or remembering a certain card to use. It’s a really, really good budgeting software, and has both iPhone and android apps, as well as programs for Mac and PC.

    I’ve been using it since my partner and I moved out of home and it’s saved us from spending more than we earn. The “rules” on the YNAB website made going from living at home with full time work and no living expenses, to two people living on one income the least stressful our situation could possibly be.

  8. Katie

    My husband have been using YNAB (You Need A Budget) for almost a year now, and it’s awesome! Honestly the only way to get on top of finances is to budget and this system works really well. We both have the apps so we know how much we can spend on anything at all times. What we have learned is that the only way to really save money long term is to prepare for big and little everyday/monthy/yearly expenses and to budget them out. It sounds boring, but we have totally changed our spending habits with little stress. It costs $60 to buy the software and that is a 1x fee. Then you can use the apps and the software forever. I would just recommend something like this WAY over this grocery card. Why make your life more difficult?


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