Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the magic of cash

You know those ads for visa, where everyone is happily swiping their credit cards until the whole works comes to a screeching halt when one customer whips out some of the green stuff to pay? This is one actual case of truth in advertising.

Rog and I have been trying a new experiment. For our personal discretionary spending money we've switched to a cash only system. We've only been doing it for a month, and it has already made quite an impact. I was laughing about it last night in Target. I was looking to replace something, and there was a choice between two options - one of which cost only $2 more than the other. In the old days, I would have grabbed the more expensive one without even thinking about it, because it MIGHT be more useful. Instead I actually stopped and THOUGHT about it, and went with the least expensive one, because it really was exactly what I needed.

It's interesting to me how quickly my usage of money has changed. Over the past three years our spending style has really evolved. We've gone from not really paying attention at all and just buying what we wanted - which worked because neither of us is TOO ridiculously extravagant, if you don't count pinball machines and the shiny sparkly things that Kat likes - to this new cash operating system. Now we actually think about what we're doing with the green stuff: Do I really need it? Do I REALLY want it?

Mostly it makes me laugh at all of the stuff that we used to consume without even thinking about it. That 1 second moment of thought makes a huge difference. In one month I've already spent over $100 less than usual - and that includes some treats for Katie for our plane ride to party with Mag and Lizard! The grocery bill has magically gone down too, even though that good time still goes on MasterCard. Somehow the cash mentality has filtered into my subconscious and changed the plastic habit a tad without me even thinking about it. Craziness. This just means I'll have more moolah to play with at Christmas!

3 comments:

T said...

I have to agree with you. To a point. Having spent the last two years here in what is pretty much a cash-only society, I've had to learn to plan ahead a little bit. And I admit that I have made some "extravagant purchases", like that great, big TV set. But I paid cash for it. I had to plan for it a bit, and I ended up walking around town for a couple of days with a 3-4 stack of cash, but I did have to make an extra effort to make the purchase. The only problem is that Amazon is so darn easy to use...

Disco Mom said...

Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. A lot of places in NY only take cash, so I'm operating on a partial-cash spending allowance. I only use the debit card for major things like groceries. It really does make you watch your spending more closely - the concreteness of the money is good for that. Wow, so cash can teach the value of money to adults as well as kids! The other day I went to the store for only a gallon of milk. It was last day before payday so money was a little...not there. But I had a $5 bill in my wallet so I knew I could just get milk. I got to the checkout to realize I'd bought a pack of gum and only had $4.25, and the milk was $4.54. SUPER LAME! I HATED to do it, but I bought the milk with a credit card, the one for emergencies. If I hadn't had that, we would have gone home without milk and it wouldn't have been pretty for the milk-loving toddler. Next time I guess I even need to think about the pack of gum! Money is money.

kat said...

And you think - sheesh! It's just a pack of gum! Mostly it's been striking me how in reality, this is probably how most of the world actually lives - e.g., the folks to whom we rent. Not that they always plan ahead enough for the rent! :) I just keep thinking what living tight means for us, and how most of the world would be glad to have the job/things with which we have been blessed.