Well it’s finally the end of October — the end of my cash-only experiment.
At the beginning of the month, I withdrew $400 from my bank, intending to use it on groceries, laundry, and my other little shopping errands that pop up.
What went well:
- I could really appreciate the value of seeing my cash supply slowly dwindle.
- Handing over $40 here and there certainly felt different than swiping my debit card for that amount.
- I do think I tried to spend less, since I knew I wanted to make that amount last for the whole month.
What didn’t work:
- I wrote down most of what I spent, but there are still transactions where I forgot to do that. Who knows where the money went?
- I forgot to budget for some things, including parking fees.
- Toward the end of the month when my cash stash was low, I felt really broke. Even though I could have just gone to the ATM or used my debit card, I didn’t want to “fail” my little experiment. That was dumb.
- I ran out of cash a few days ago and said, “To heck with it, I’m using my debit card instead of going without something.”
Going cash-only for a period is a good exercise in monitoring your spending habits — so long as you hang on to all receipts and/or write down every purchase. And if you absolutely do need to stick to a finite amount of spending, going cash-only will make sure you stay within the parameters.
During my final grocery trip of the month, you betcha I had my calculator in hand to make sure I wouldn’t be embarrassed at the checkout. I don’t do that when I use my debit card. I just try to keep a mental tally of my total price.
In the end though, going cash-only didn’t work for me. I hated feeling so limited. It sort of stressed me out, even.
For November and the foreseeable future, I’m going back to my debit card. I’ll still follow somewhat of a budget for our flexible expenses, but I’ll approach it knowing that hey, you can’t know exactly how much you’ll need to spend in a month. There are unbudgetables that will certainly pop up.
I’ll track our spending and make adjustments as the month goes on.