Like festival wristbands, habits are hard to break. And if I know humans, which I think I do, I know we love doing the thing that’s most comfortable. So when something threatens that secure thing we cherish, boy are we ready to panic.
At the start of the month, I decided to treat myself to a barista made coffee from my local cafe. When I got to the counter, the girl at the counter told me that their card machine was down and I’d have to pay with cash.
I had no cash.
So I was forced to walk away and find another coffee shop.
Even though I still managed to get my deliciously brewed latte, I had an iffy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Why didn’t I have cash in my wallet? Well it’s because I’ve gotten into the habit of paying with card because it’s comfortable.
So this month, I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and go cash-only. At the start of the every week, I’d withdraw $100 from an ATM and use it for anything I needed.
For my first cash-only purchase, I accidentally used a card-only self serve checkout machine in Woolies, which was fun to explain to the woman who witnessed me taking stuff out of my bag and to a regular checkout.
Then, I turned into the crazy lady counting her coins down to the last cent at Breadtop.
Soon enough I became insulted by card-only businesses. How dare you not accept my shiny coins and glistening notes. Shame on you!
But if there was one thing that stood out the most was the number of servers who assumed I’d be paying with card by handing their machine when it came time to pay.
Huh, seems like everyone's gotten very cozy with plastic.
Oh yeah, and paying with cash taught me some stuff about spending and saving too.
As odd as this is going to sound, once I started paying with cash, I became very aware of the value of money.
Every time money left my finger tips, there was a part of me that wanted it back. Of course, that would really take my crazy lady performance to the next level so I chose to cry in silence instead.
Seeing my cash pile shrink during the week taught me that it is so much harder to give money away once its in physical form. Tapping our way through life makes it easier to give money away.
Not to say that my debit card is the devil reincarnated, it just might not have the best intentions for my savings sometimes.
On top of that, it forced me to reconsider what I believed were needs instead of wants. For example, stocking up on Oreos because they’re on clearance? A spiritual need, not an actual one.
Ultimately, going cash-only for a month gave me a bigger appreciation for the money I have. And even though I’ll eventually start paying with plastic again, I’ll make sure I’ve always got a couple of fivers in my wallet too.
After all, cash is king.