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Cash Only...Its Harder Than it Seems

January 13th, 2007 at 03:16 am

Today is day twelve of my cash only challenge (actually about day 20 but I'm counting from the first of the year to make it easier to remember). I've learned a lot in these past couple of weeks...
...Now I know why grandma's major purchases were few and far between, why she bought most things at garage sales and why she was the loss leader queen at the grocery store. Using cash only (which she did. always.) it takes time to save up for a big purchase and even when you have the money it is hard to part with it since it took so long to save it! Cash only really makes you aware of the value of each dollar.
...You have to plan ahead. When you rely on credit cards, you can always "afford" gas, food, clothes, an ipod, etc. right now and figure out how to pay for it later. With cash only you need to plan ahead for each day/week/month and ration your money accordingly. Sure you can buy the beautiful sweater today but will that leave you enough money for gas next week so you can get to work?
...Using cash only makes you get creative. There is such a challenge to stretch every penny as far as it will go so that your cash will last to cover all of the things you want to buy. With $100 today I was able to get gas ($20), stamps ($7.80), groceries--including laundry soap, toothpaste, meat, veges, baking supplies, fruit, etc that will last a week and a half (most all on sale for a total of $68) and savings ($4.20). Now for the creative part: I try to stay home two to three days a week so I dont waste gas making unnecessary trips, I pay most bills online so I dont waste stamps, we eat all of our meals at home which saves a considerable amount of money over eating out, and savings gets transfered to my ING account each week so it can make a little interest.

Overall, this is quite a dramatic change for me and something I have never tried before but it sure is giving me a financial attitude adjustment.

Thanks to everyone for all of the great tips they post in their blogs...it really is inspiring/educational/helpful to share this kind of information. Without this site I would have never thought to reign in my spending and try to live "cash only".

9 Responses to “Cash Only...Its Harder Than it Seems”

  1. HouseHopeful Says:

    I like the idea of using cash only. I definately feel that credit & debit cards make it easier to spend more than we plan to. Good luck on your challange!

  2. marymara Says:

    A great post!

  3. reginaastralis Says:

    I've been doing cash only for a couple of months, since I closed my checking account.

    I was spending like mad, over drawing my account left and right .. it wasn't working for me.

    I got a prepaid debit card to pay for things online *I have no credit cards*. There is a 99 cent fee for each purchase, which adds about 5-7 dollars a month at most. I only do this to not have to worry about stamps and remembering to mail out my letters and bills. I know I would be horrid at that at this point.

    I want to go truely cash only. It's HARD. It works, but it's great.

  4. baselle Says:

    Funny how even a debit card makes money seem like numbers. With cash, the paper feels substantial. You can fan it, you can count it, you can feel how old it is and what its been through, you can draw funny mustaches on presidents. (Dare ya to draw one on a Benji!).

  5. The Dollar Diva Says:

    I'm going to give this a try. I will still use my debit card for gas but I limit my gas purchase every week anyway. My big thing is the grocery store. My 2 teenage boys can eat like crazy! Challenge will be to find inexpensive, filling but nutritional food. Smile

  6. Bookie Says:

    The transition to a cash economy from a credit system was a revelation for me. I deliberately over-funded my out-of-pocket categories (food, gas, etc.) to avoid any problems, only to smack into my own reluctance to part with my "real money."

    What helped was to break my spending up, so I was dealing with smaller disbursements. I get my "allowance" weekly and shop for the week only. Less resistance and fresher produce.

    I also use a check register budget format that displays my monthly balance as I fund savings and the fixed expenses. Easy to see and allocate any funds for discretionary spending.

    Smile

  7. living_in_oz Says:

    AMEN! I switched over to "cash only" a while back. I keep money in the bank, of course, for paying the bills and such, but everything else is cash only. It DOES make you so much more aware of where every penny is going.

  8. LuxLiving Says:

    Drawing a mustache? Why not try inscribing 'SavingAdvice.com' on them??? (only half-heartedly kidding Big Grin)

    feeding a crew try hillbillyhousewife.com

    Cash only - here we get into a bit of a definition conundrum - I only pay for things that we have money already for which by standard definition means we pay cash, but we use a checkbook and a debit card and a credit card, they are just paid off every month.

    Those of you who are doing literal paper cash & metal coin only - I applaud you!!

  9. tinapbeana Says:

    cash only here for allowance and groceries, and it does make a difference! i agree with bookie, rationing it out every week makes it easier. there are few things in my life that i can't wait a few days for, but running out of money on the 15th and having to wait two weeks? ack!

    bills and savings are either check or electronic transfer, since neither one of them involve 'impulse purchases'. one day, i might get to where i can impulsively save, but now is not it *grin*

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