The way that men spend their hard earned dollars has changed drastically in the last few decades. I remember hearing my dad talk about carrying a minimum of $200 to $300 cash in his wallet at all times, and using it to make all of his everyday purchases. It seems that most young men of today, like myself, don't carry near the amount of cash that our fathers did, and instead rely on credit and debit cards to make purchases. Though I believe credit cards are tools, it seems that the spike in my stress level when I receive my monthly statement is something I could do without.
I'd like to know what your thoughts of carrying cash versus plastic are. And, if you do use cash more than credit, how much do you carry? I am in the process of trying to switch over to a cash budget every month, and stray from using plastic so often; even at the gas pumps. I'm just putting this topic into discussion to find out what you think, even though it might be a topic that's already been discussed.
I agree with the first respondent wholeheartedly. I used to carry cash with me all the time, but I made the mistake of letting that constantly available cash in my pocket deter me from making wise spending choices. I'd be at the grocery store getting essentials, see something my stomach craved on sale, and buy it becasue I knew the cash I was carrying would allow it, even though I knew I probobly wasn't going to eat or use it all. then, later on when some necessity cost would come up, I'd find myself short and have to withdraw more money and thus the cycle would restart itself. What worked for me was giving myself basically an allowance of sorts: I knew it took anywhere from $25 to $30 to fill up my gas tank and that amount usually would last me a little more than a week. So I added that along with my other calcualted expenses for every two week or so period and then added an extra $30 or so to it as a cushion (I'm being vague because these are my own personal expenses and their amounts most likely are much diff. from yours). this then became my set amount that I had to make due with twice a month. Just a warning though: The only times strategy doesn;t work is when an unexpected payment or expense comes up (holiday gift, speeding ticket...), which Is why I am also an avid savings guy. Well, hope this helped at least a little bit.
I carry both, but have had to learn to discipline myself. At one point, I carried nothing but cash and found myself constantly short, so I started carrying a credit card, and the stress level was way to high. I now have cash in my wallet, between $100 and $200, and a credit card. Since I have stated carrying both, and learned to discipline myself, I have found that I will have the same $100 in my wallet for a very long time. Also, the credit card is only for significant purchases. I know that it costs me $30 a week for gas, so I seem to be costantly replacing the $30 to $40 at the front of the wallet, and that is as far as I make it into my cash.
As much as I'd like to support the manly notion of carrying ample cash, it's just not terribly efficient or practical these days. There are many reasons to use plastic. For instance, some places don't prefer or even don't take cash any more. Hotels, rental car agencies, and many other places require a credit card to be on file. Credit cards often expedite the process of payment, and they make the cashier's job easier. When you have a credit card, you can often get some sort of a bonus, such as cash back at the end of the year, frequent flyer miles, etc. Also, it's easier to review your purchases with a credit/debit card through online banking.
I still carry more cash on me than most. Right now, I have $78 in my wallet. Yet, I'm going to start cutting back. Why? Because I find that when I have cash in my wallet, I look at it as free money and am more likely to spend it. I feel like I can buy things and deal with the sacrifice right then, and as such don't have to dread paying it off later. That is why I generally only use cash to pay for cheap things, such as a case of beer from the store or lunch at the local Vietnamese sandwich shop.
A couple weekends ago, while on the way back from a backpacking trip, my friends and I stopped at a gas station for cold drinks. I grabbed a Pepsi, handed the cashier a $10, received $8.something back, and headed out the door. My friend grabbed a Pepsi, swiped his card, waited for authorization, signed his named, took his receipt, and then headed out the door. It took much longer than my transaction. As we all hopped back in the car, I turned to him and said, "Josh. You don't have two dollars on you?" "No," he replied, "I don't carry cash. "Asshole," I muttered, and then proceeded to tell him why he should repent of his non-cash-carrying ways.
In the end, I feel it is important to have enough money to pay for the little things, but purchases over $20 warrant a swipe of a card.
Although I wouldn't call my friend an asshole for using a credit card for a 2 dollar soda, I think using a credit card for a single soda is pretty annoying. To that end, I think of myself as an asshole when I'm buying a Slurpee and swipe my card for it. Sometimes I'll get cash back to make myself not feel like that tool that used a card for a 2 dollar purchase.
I find that if I have cash, though, it is like "free money" for me. That means I'll spend it on something I probably wouldn't have if I had to use a card. I use my credit card or my debit card. The thing is that I never use a credit card as a credit card. I always pay it off at the end of the month. If I can't, I won't buy it. That's just me though. It helps me not get into debt, that is for sure.
I try very hard to not use cash because I find that I can't keep track of my cash purchases like I can when I use my debit or credit card (I only have one of each). I use mint.com to track all of my spending and also how much money I take out in cash but I never keep track of how I spend that; it is just for anything and I keep it to a minimum each month.
I carry a small amount of cash normally between $30-$40 in my wallet, normally small bills $5s and $10s. That is for paying people back when they pay for some thing; I am a college student so this happens all the time when we go out to eat. I have also heard that this is better then not carrying any cash in case you get mugged because they may not believe you when you tell them you don't have any cash.
I also carry some emergency cash on me (not in my wallet) and in my car, in case I get stuck somewhere and need some cash in a hurry or lose my wallet.
I've tried the envelope system on and off and I'm a fan. But we usually just do it for things like gas/groceries/entertainment and such. What do you do with the cash when your insurance bills come in? You still have to write a check, right?
I actually feel like I'm less likely to spend when I carry cash. Cash to me is very tangible, so I feel like it hits home more when it's leaving my hand. A credit or debit card is too painless to me. Just a little swipe and money magically disappears from my account. I still use a card of course, but I prefer cash.
I've also been carrying cash more since being up in Vermont. A lot of little restaurants and farmer's stands, don't take plastic and there's nothing worse than eating a meal out and then realizing they don't take cards and you don't have cash.
I feel the same way about cash being tangible. The biggest pro is getting a discount when you buy big things in cash furniture electronics magically a salesperson 80% of the time can do a little better for you on the price. The green back means business.
Yep, I agree that for me at least, cash feels more tangible. I think of the other things I might need it for, and it makes me less likely to spend it.
Your point about restaurants and stands not always taking plastic brings up another item to consider: interchange fees. Businesses can pay quite a bit of money in interchange fees, so if you pay them with cash, they get more of it. As such, if someone wants to support a business (especially a small business), paying with cash can help in this regard.
I use the envelope cash system. I work out the budget in a spreadsheet for each payday. Since I know when the regular bills like utilities are due, I work those out by paycheck and pay on line. I then get large sums of cash to fill the envelopes. My wife uses a debit card for gas because she is not comfortable leaving the kids in the van to go in to pay cash.
I find that I spend way less this way because cash is hard to part with.
For travel, I use a corporate credit card (its the company rule anyway). I haven't made any trips/vacations of a personal nature since I started this system, but would probably use a credit card for that just to make life easy.