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 pmThe content of is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka “PT”, is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. 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 Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!


  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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.