Day 5: Pay with cash

OK, so I realize I might lose some of you on this one.

Honestly, I hesitated to even write this post because [Full Disclosure] I use a debit card almost exclusively.

Like, I might not even have a quarter with me to rent the cart at Aldi.


However, I’m writing a series about taking small, easy steps to vintage living in a modern world. I’m not there yet, not by a long shot, but I am traveling in the right direction.

We’ve already covered some of the biggies: slow down, unplug and keep it simple.

How could I not include paying with cash?

My parents were of the generation where they would rather hide their money under the mattress than put it in the bank.

Seriously. It made me nervous to think how much money my papa kept “hidden” in his special hiding place when he was alive. I offered to drive him to the bank so he could make a deposit, but he would simply say, “Not today.”

Personally, I find that I definitely tend to spend more money when I pay with my card than on the rare occasion when I do have cash in my wallet.

And apparently, I’m not the only one.

According to an article on this site, a Dunn & Bradstreet study found that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards than when using cash. And McDonald’s found that the average transaction rose from $4.50 to $7 when customers used plastic instead of cash.

Fascinating stuff.

We (our culture) has made it way too easy to spend money. Just swipe your card and be on your merry way…

Thirsty? I’ll just hit the drive through…(swipe)

Oh, we’re out of paper towels, I’ll just run into Target (swipe) – and you end up spending $50.

(Swipe) Would you like cash back? Oh, I’ll just take $10 out. 

It’s those little $2 here and $5 there transactions that can really add in one month’s time. Then before we know it, the utility bill is due…and we think, “Where did all of our money go?”

My point is…what if we said, “I have $100 to spend this week at the grocery store.” We go to the ATM and take out $100 (or whatever your budget is) for the week. Something tells me we might not be as tempted to take a peek at the new fall lip colors strategically located on the way to the bandaid aisle, or pick up the latest issue of Real Simple and put it in the cart.

There is just something about plunking down cold hard cash that makes you stop and think for a moment before you spend.

So my challenge for today is to pay with cash (or at least think about paying cash for things).

I don’t know about you, but this will be a hard habit for me to break. However, I know we could easily have a little bit more saved up for Christmas if I just cut out the little things and paid with cash.

How about you? Do you pay with cash? If you do, do you use the envelope system?

If you’re new here, check out the rest of the series here.

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I understand…with the debit card! I pay with a credit card…that I pay off each month. No debt, but I should work more with a cash basis.

    • That’s awesome that you are so diligent to pay it off each month, way to go! Most people don’t do that and then it gets harder to dig out when something big or unexpected comes up…

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