Go Cash Only for a Week

Is your spending out of control lately? Here’s a quick tip to help you gain insight and instill discipline into your spending habits: Go cash only for one week!

Using Cash is So Old School

Most of us at one time or another find ourselves without cash. You end up using your credit or debit card to make all your purchases for days and weeks at a time. Some may go without cash all the time. In fact, there were several years in my life where I just didn’t carry cash at all. I simply had my bank’s credit/debit card and a few credit cards in my wallet (my wallet these days).  These two cards were all I needed.

Let’s face it, in the US in most urban areas you can get along quite easily using the card only method. In fact, in some places it’s frowned upon to break out the cash. We’ve all seen the Visa commercials where everything stops down due to some idiot, behind-the-times person actually using cash.

The Problem with Credit and Debit Cards

I’ve found that using my credit and debit cards exclusively has a negative impact on my financial situation:

Unconscious Spending – Unless you are naturally very disciplined about your spending it can quickly get out of control with the use of cards. Mainly because you aren’t thinking about what you are spending as much. What’s more visually appealing and creates more desire

…this picture of a credit card?


…or this picture of cash?


The cash, right? It’s that same emotion that naturally creates better control over cash than cards. 

A Mess of Receipts and/or Register Entries – If you are keeping track of your purchases while using only cards, then you either have to keep a receipt or write it down in your register. If you don’t then you are relying on your bank, the restaurant, the clothing store to record the transaction properly (not recommended).

So, because you have to keep all these receipts or make every little register note, your going to have a bunch of receipts or a bunch of notations cluttering up your life and you time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have less mess and more control? Then maybe it’s time to take the “Cash Only” challenge.

Take the Challenge

If you’ve been spending too much lately and are in need of a financial wake up call, I challenge you to go cash only this week. Let’s say you normally spend $400 a month on your debit and/or credit cards and your goal is to spend 25% less this week than you did last week. Use this approach:

Start off by going to your online banking information and downloading a month’s worth of expenses. Total up the amount of expenses you had via debit and credit card for the month. In this case, we said $400. Then divide that number by 4, which is $100. Then multiply that number by .75. This gives us $75. That’s the amount you should withdraw in cash from your bank. Take that amount and strive to use that and only that this week. You’ll be surprised how effective this can be in helping you regain focus and better control your spending.

Do you use cash or credit only? Or a mix of both? Explain why in the comment box below.

Photos: by s,B – Michael Brenton – King of The Wachoo Wachoo and Refracted Moments™

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Last Edited: July 28, 2011 @ 12:55 am
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.