Ok. I’m going to try it. With great trepidation. On my terms. Does that still count?
In chapter 4 of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, Crystal encourages us all to ditch the plastic for three months. Well, there’s no time like the present, and considering our fifth baby is set to arrive in August, I’d say May, June, and July are it! We’ll see if I’m converted after that.
One glance at the comments on my Plastic Excuses post, and I know I’m in good company. The reasons to swipe a card are many, and some I’d say are even quite valid. (I support ‘em, because I use ‘em!) One that came up over and over again that I still struggle to wrap my brain around, though, goes something like this: “I (or my husband) spend cash way faster than we spend with the card. Cash just flows through our fingers.”
I’m not buyin’ it. Here’s what I don’t understand (and take this from a truly “I don’t get it, because I’ve never tried the all-cash system” stance): Once it’s gone its gone, right? I can kind of see where some might look at a pile of cash and think “I’m rich! Let’s spend it!” But… once it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s the beauty of the system, is it not?
Again, I’m a newbie here, and will likely find out for myself, but my guess for those who “spend more with cash than with the card” is that you don’t have a cash problem, you have a decision making, planning, or self control problem. (Hoo-wee, that sounds harsh!) If you’re in control of your budget, you’re not replenishing the stash at will,and you’re not whipping out the plastic once you run out of green, well then… once it’s gone, it’s gone. (And we’ll just see what I have to say about that in three months, huh?!)
So why would someone with no debt, no house payment, and decent savings (all while using a credit card for most purchases) give up the plastic? Good question! Basically, we’re always up for a challenge.
- I’d like to prove the theory, right or wrong. You never know until you try, right? Kind of hard to toss my two cents in the bucket when I’ve never gone cold cash.
- Like I’ve said before, my children are getting confused. It would do them good to see mom and dad make transactions with the green stuff they know is money. Plastic truly is baffling to them, and this will likely be good for all of us.
- I really, truly want to see if it makes a difference. Will my spending change with cash only? Will I truly spend less? save more? become organized? keep better record? have extra in our account? keep my home cleaner? Ah, well. It’s nice to dream.
Yes. This is where I set myself up for cheating before I even turn the calendar to May 1. If we’re going to stick this out for three of the busiest months of the year (think graduations, vacations, summer ball, swimming, and such) I’m going to have to allow a few concessions.
- We will continue to purchase gas at the local “in the middle of a dirt road” co-op gas pump with our co-op card and receive the monthly bill. I’m not going to stop supporting one of our (very!) few tiny town businesses just to pay cash for gas. Also, I’m not going to travel 20 miles to fill up. In fact, as often as I’m on E when I should be starting a trip, that would be a very bad idea, indeed.
- I have Swagbucks and Vitacost credits, and I’m not afraid to use them! We’ve got our oldest daughter’s birthday and at least 8 or so graduation gifts to buy this month. If I can do that without stressing my cash budget in month one, I’m doing it!
- I’ll still pay for my monthly Azure order with the card. And I’m so very excited that our 23-week produce CSA starts in May! I payed for it already, so soon we’ll have a weekly veggie drop that is sure to ease the amount of green flowing through my fingers.
- My goal here is to quit the plastic, not tighten the belt. May is looking to be a bit of a spendy month for us (what with extra gifts, traveling, our yearly pool pass fee, etc.) and we’re good with that. We’ve planned for it. I will not freak out. I will not freak out. I will not freak out. It’s all about averages, and right now I simply want to develop a new green habit, not new spending habits.
- I’m limiting the challenge to groceries, household, and out and about expenses. At least for May, I’m not setting out to change my plastic/automated/check writing world. Baby steps! I’ll hand over cash for groceries and household expenses, and also for anything that comes up while we’re traveling (which might be the biggest challenge of all). In fact, I practiced just yesterday when I paid for my Caramel Frappé and my gardening plants with cash. Proud of me?
I know many of you are cheering me on from your own experience, and I do hope that a few of you proud plastic carriers will join me! Find your motivation. Make your own concessions if need be. We’ll do this together! Will cash make a difference? Here’s to finding out!