Proof That Going “Cash Only” Works

I recently stumbled upon an article and video about a couple who went cash only for a month to see if they could curtail some of their spending (a method I've deployed in the past and blogged about here at Prime Time Money).

The video from the story is titled, “Paper or Plastic?” and the accompanying article is called, “Paper or Plastic? Family Saves With Cash.”  The Farhat family, who is featured in the story, actually ended up spending 24% less using cash only than a normal month with credit and debit cards.  From the story,

“One of the most noticeable downsides the Farhats noticed was how using cash only slowed down their fast-paced lives.”

Small price to pay for that much less spent every now and again I say.  So there you have it: proof that Going Cash Only for a Week might just help you spend less.

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Last Edited: July 26, 2017 @ 6:01 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a former practicing CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of FinCon, the conference and community dedicated to helping other financial influencers and brands. He created this website back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money, hold himself accountable, and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

PT uses Personal Capital to keep track of his financial life. This free software allows him to review his net worth regularly, analyze his investments, and make decisions about his financial future.

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  1. I think tracking spending was the real money saver here rather than using cash.
    We make hundreds of dollars a year from credit card rewards and our life is so much easier than cash would be! Of course one has to be disciplined, track all spending, plan ahead, use a budget, and pay off credit cards in full every month. (Or be like my teen who pays off the entire balance every Sunday … it’s hard to overspend when you know you will be “writing” an electronic check each week.)

  2. No Debt Plan says:

    For me I think this proves less that going cash only works (it obviously does) and more that this lady has no control over her spending.

    Imagine she carried around her full month’s budget in her purse. She’d have money to burn then. Would she stick to her budget then? I doubt it.

  3. Steward @ My Family's Money says:

    I think that it is funny that:

    “One of the most noticeable downsides the Farhats noticed was how using cash only slowed down their fast-paced lives.”

    There are credit card commercials out there that specifically attack the “slower life” by making it look silly wasteful. Marketing can be really sneaky if you ask me.

  4. Lauren @ LifeStyler says:

    Also – @ DoctorS: When I switched to a cash-only system, I was in pretty serious credit card debt. I’ve been able to eliminate almost all of my debt (including student loans) in the past two years. I’ll be completely debt free at the end of November. It’s made me so much more aware of my finances and the money I used to spend on minute crap goes towards debt repayment now.

  5. Lauren @ LifeStyler says:

    I switched to a cash-base system about two years ago and it’s made all the difference in the world. There’s just something about seeing the money actually disappear from your wallet that makes you that much more aware of how much and where you spend your money.

    I would encourage anyone trying to get their spending on track to go “cash-only” for at least a few months.

  6. Scott @ The Passive Dad says:

    Love the video! It is so amazing how much we can change our habits by using cash. I really enjoyed how is slowed down the lifestyle. It would be hard for me, but the savings could be huge.

  7. I am going to have to give this a try. Once I clean off the CC debt, who knows when that will be! But it makes sense because we are so much less inclined to spend cash as opposed to swiping that card. Great post!

  8. Good point, Mr TML. They actually mentioned that in the video. They saw it as a plus because they simply didn’t make ANY purchases online and then didn’t go out and make up for it in the stores.

    I agree though. Shopping for certain items online can help you spend less for an item.

    I wonder why they didn’t just use PayPal. Transfer from their bank and then pay with PP???

  9. Mr. ToughMoneyLove says:

    Great story link. I’m impressed that they actually tracked the data close enough to reach a solid conclusion. The killer for a lot of people will be lack of access to online shopping, which if used properly can be a money saver.