Living on Cash Basis Only

Photo of Randy Legaspi

By Alpha

Subtitle: CardLess for Two Weeks – what did I realize on spending cash only?

Before plunging into the 30-day challenge on using cash-only, I was only using one credit card for our purchases. But even having one plastic tucked into the compartments of my wallet is easy enough for me to use it out of convenience. In short, this card was my wallet’s BFF for the longest time, until I decided to finally ditch it. Putting my words into practice was my number ally. When I wrote about my decision on a cash-only basis  in this post, I know I just have to be true to my words not only because you (my readers) have witnessed this challenge but because I want to go back to basics.

Back in the years when I was still building up my credit, I was eager to be offered with enticing 0% APR in the mails. I was looking forward for credit card companies to offer me a sizeable credit limit. At that time I thought my credit limit was equivalent to my power of consumption (read: income versus credit limit) and my ability to purchase goods. But all that was, had become a memory in the past.

Now, two weeks into my cardless life I have realized a few things:

  1. You don’t get the store discount, but you get your sanity back – when we stopped by the Old Navy store to buy a ten-pack of socks I was hoping I could slice down the price of the package from the sale price of $6.00 to $3.00 if I use the coupon they sent in the mail (I was happy thinking of the deal). But when I got to the cashier and handed her my coupon, she asked for my credit card too. I didn’t have my card (I believe I have already cut it out) at all, and I was hoping I could get the two shirts at $4.00 each along with my extra shirt purchases. But when she said she can’t give me the discount, I just went ahead and paid the $6.00 sale price on the socks only. Although I might not have gotten the 40% off, I know I am back to my sanity – because it save me more money. I was able to let go of the two shirts that I hoping to get a steal on and left with what I truly need.
  2. You spend lesser – If you have only $20 in your wallet, you begin to think thoughtfully of how to spend that $20. Instead of not thinking of what to buy, you begin to calculate what should be spent on and what should not.
  3. You are more thoughtful of your spending – Because you’ve driven to the bank to take the cash out, you really think more of what you will spend on to conserve your money. Once the money you took out from the ATM a couple of days ago is gone, then you’re gonna have to drive back to the bank and plan for the trip. It happened to me on a Friday, when all that was left on the money I took out was $10 and I stopped by the Walgreens to get some milk. As I entered the Walgreens, I started to think that I need to buy a fwe other things but because I only had $10 in my wallet, I was thoughtful enough to just buy the milk.
  4. You think twice before you place an item in your cart – Do I really need this? Can this wait until next week? Will this be on sale soon? Will I eat this tomorrow? – these are questions that may prevent you from grabbing an item off the shelf and placing it in your cart. You realize that if you pose these questions, you are more likely to return items that you don’t necessarily need back to its original place.
  5. No more splurging – You won’t splurge because your cash is only limited. When you have cold cash on your hand, splurging is out the question. In the first place, who would want to carry $500 in bills to buy that ostrich bag. So, splurging is eliminated with cash.
  6. You get creative with your activities (no more malling) – I saw myself avoiding the malls since the day I stated living on cash basis only. This is good because it gets me to stay home with my daughter and spend more quality time other than window shopping at the mall. This is also good because I get to save the money on compulsive buying whenever I go to the mall.
  7. You ask yourself more: “do I really need this?” – and you ask yourself many more times that you’d end up not taking the item. Remember less is more.
  8. You learn how to prioritize what to buy – and you also learn to wait and practice patience. One of the many things that our current generation has been guilty of is the instant gratification of all material things. We feel as if we are entitled to own things now, right at the moment that sometimes we forget to prioritize what is really important. I reallized that in using cash only, I learn how to buy things that I just need for now – and not buy things with the “just in case” mentality.
  9. You smile more – because you are with the moment of spending what is really on your hands, I realize that I avoid thinking of the bill that will come up after the transaction. I feel that without the hassle of thinking of going over my budget limit for the month, I become more in control of my own financial life. I also feel empowered that I can do it; that I suppress what I do not truly need. I also feel like I am really living at the moment not for whatever tomorrow ‘s paycheck will bring me. Thus, I smile more!
  10. You start to think that less is definitely more – In my pre-cash days (which was not too long ago – about two weeks ago, but I’ve been proud of it) I always thought that if I use my AMEX I will be earning 10% back on all purchases, that I’d be getting a wonderful freebie. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting in the mail my $25 gift card every time I swiped a cumulative amount of $2, 500 – but the reality is – this is just a gimmick!  Yes, I have probably received at least thirty of them in the mail throughout the course of my a member of the card’s club, but that wasn’t really the reward. Surely, I would have been more cognizant of what I used to buy, but because credit card companies really play with our human nature of “wanting things for free”, I fall for it. Many times, my husband would encourage me to use my credit card because of the “rewards” that come with it, but oftentimes I know that I can reward myself more than the $25 gift cards that come in the mail.

Yes, I know I am still in the earlier stage of my challenge but knowing that I am doing it now and resisting the temptation to go back using my only credit card is a big achievement. Perhaps in a month’s time I will be as golden as the Buddha in Thailand.

I will keep you posted on this journey!

So, stay with me!


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