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Savvy ATM: Go Cash Only

Remember when Oprah lost 67 pounds and wheeled a wagon full of fat on to stage? It was definitely bizarre, but it served its purpose and going cash only does the same thing for your finances. While not as explicit as Oprah's wagon moment, I think deciding to only spend cash is really eye opening. You get a real visual of how much money you're going through and where you're spending it when you're shelling out actual cash.

If you're someone who's always wondering where your money went at the end of each month, a good idea would be to completely ditch plastic for awhile. That means using absolutely no credit cards, and using debit cards only to pay your online bills. Even if you already primarily use your debit card and save your credit card for real emergencies, you're still not having to hand over cash every time you make a purchase. You're more likely to consider what you're buying if you have to keep running to the ATM.


Join The Conversation
chancleta chancleta 9 years
i so agree i can hand over my card and not bat an eye but when i hand over actual money it hurts a little
katherynn katherynn 9 years
plus_2_kids.. I say whatever works for you works for you.. but I NEVER want to rely on plastic for my funds! Credit card companies actually SHRED payment checks that they get in the mail.. that's not an urban myth either, it's a fact. People that have credit cards and pay them off every month are actually considered "deadbeats" in the credit card companies eyes, why? Because they cant make any money off of you! They dotnt want that kind of business. They'll do anything to keep you from doing that.. anything from shredding checks, to delaying posting a payment to an account, raising interest rates, etc. and because I stick to a budget, and write down what I spend, I know exactly how much I'm spending. 1) It's in my envelope, AND written out each month before the month begins. I write it down, i put the $$ in the envelopes, and I'm good to go!
workinggirl83 workinggirl83 9 years
This is a great idea. It is always hard to spend money when you can see the bottom of your wallet!
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 9 years
I completely disagree - I use plastic for EVERYTHING, including buying a bottle of water. This way at the end of the month I have a written record of EXACTLY how much I spent on what. Also, I get airline miles out of it (although they're getting more and more difficult to actually use). Cash literally slips through your fingers - and who keeps all their receipts to tally their expenses? Quite frankly, I also like the benefit that should I loose my wallet, I can cancel my credit card and not be accountable for expenses, but if you only have cash you'll have to carry a fair amount and if it's stolen/lost well that sucks big time.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Katheryn....thanks for explaining Ramsey's system, it sounds fantastic!! Once I get my stuff together...aka find a job, I am going to implement it! I would still deduct any automatic payments from my checking account though that I could, phone bill, utilities, credit card payments, student loans, car payment, etc. Not like you pay those in cash anyway, but still!
katherynn katherynn 9 years
I'm a cash only girl now. I do what Dave Ramsey reccommends. I budget and use his "envelope system" to keep track of my $$. Every month I make my budget and allocate my cash for each envelope. The grocery $$ is only for groceries, and my "fun" $ is only for "fun". Once I've gone through all of the cash in the envelope, I'm done. I cant steal from another envelope. Going with cash only has really opened my eyes to see just how much I nickel and dime my $$. AND it's reported that people who spend with cash save an estimated 10-15%. Not because of "interest" from credit cards, but because it's sometimes emotionally harder to let go of hard earned cash. You start laying down the twenties and you feel a physical and emotional pain. Where as, with the debit or credit card, it's an easy painless swipe. :)
Lorelei-Spirit Lorelei-Spirit 9 years
I am a cash only girl.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I mostly use cash only, or my debit card. We have one credit card and pay it off to build up credit, you need credit nowadays. You just have to learn how to use restraint when it comes to "plastic" its not "free money"
Smart-Living Smart-Living 9 years
Hi everyone! I love reading about everyone's strategies — keep them coming! The point I think you're all making is this: it doesn’t matter how you track your spending, the most important thing is to do it. xo Savvy
lawyerjen lawyerjen 9 years
If you hate cash- use debit card. My husband teases me because I NEVER carry cash (my debit card works very fine, thank you). He tells everyone that I think cash is vulgar.
lawyerjen lawyerjen 9 years
What my husband and I do is only use our debit cards and the credit card that gives us rewards for our day to day purchases. Then we pay off the entire credit card balance at the end of the month so there is no interest (only rewards). The problem is we made some BIG purchases (i.e. our wedding in Fiji- including replacing many of my husband's things when the airline lost his luggage on our way there) in the past that we used credit cards for so we are paying those off. But all in all we aren't getting further into credit card debt which is a good thing!
jenehfur jenehfur 9 years
I use my credit card for everything. from paying bills to big purchases to 99 cent purchases. for one, I earn rewards for everything I spend, I think I received about 5 or 6 $50 giftcards over the past year for simply spending money I would have spent already. and good places too- target, olive garden, macys, home depot, etc. secondly, I am much more able to track my finances by signing in and seeing exactly where my money is going, you don't always get reciepts these days for everything, not to mention keeping them and recording them is a hassle. and lastlyyyy, i keep all of my money in my savings account, earn 2 percent interest, and then pay my credit card balance in full every month. i'm winning! i very much disgree that cash is a better choice, and would argue that it is more dangerous. think about what works best for you!!
maidavale2 maidavale2 9 years
I HATE cash! Hate it. I think it is an obsolete and ridiculous system for purchasing goods. Plus, it's not healthy. Cash is studied in disease modelling and scientists are predicting that it could help spread the flu virus in the next pandemic because different strains are viable on a bank note for up to 17 DAYS.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Index cards...Like a credit checkbook?
heyxu heyxu 9 years
My fiance and I have been trying to save money for a house and a wedding, but at the end of the month when the credit card bill would come, we didn't realize how much we were spending and had no money left to save. We devised a weekly budget and took out cash. But it didn't work, because our budget also allocated certain amounts for food and entertainment. The cash in hand didn't really say how much we had left to spend on food and entertainment. Plus, we always use on credit card for everything and we've racked up enough reward points. Might as well get some rewards out of it right? Our problem isn't spending money we don't have, but spending too much that we can't save. So after months of trying different ways, we came up with something that has really worked. We still have a weekly budget for food and entertainment (which is where most of our money is spent and where we can actually control the amount). Instead of cash, we use index cards. Every transaction we make, we subtract that amount. So we always know how much we have left, still get the reward points on the credit card, and we don't have to worry about keeping loose coins and cash.
elle-j elle-j 9 years
I like using a credit card.debt card, because can look at my statement at anytime, and know exactly where my money went. With cash, i find myself constantly guessing, not remembering what i spent it on..
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
I am 50/50. I have very aware of where my money goes when I use my debit because I am forced to balance my checkbook and look at where everything went! But also, I have taken out cash for a week and allowed no ATM stops to see if I can do that and it worked well for me as well as the debit card. I only use the no ATM, cash allowance when I am really over spending on the debit. This way I can chill out and regroup, er, resave!
julieulie julieulie 9 years
I've thought about doing this as a way to cut down on spending to save for our honeymoon, but I don't think it would work for me. I work over 80 hours/week, so I do basically all of my shopping online. Having to pay only in cash would mean that I couldn't even get my prescriptions filled as I have them mailed to me, since I am always in the lab when the pharmacy is open. I don't really see how this lifestyle can work for anyone who works long hours and can't run around to do things. Plus, I live in the city and don't have a car, so I can't even get around easily to get things that I need.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
I hate using cash only b/c you can't really take it out in public to see how much you have left.
mizlynz mizlynz 9 years
I'd also like to second renee's comment that "cash burns a hole in my pocket". For some of us, CASH is more of a temptation than a debit card.
mizlynz mizlynz 9 years
I think that the problem with credit cards is that people DON'T know how to use them. They aren't responsible with them AT ALL. I got my first one and have only actually used it one time, because I don't want to rake in high interest charges. It's good to have a credit card for some things, but where you can get into problems even with a debit card is when you don't pay attention to where the money goes(and I am totally guilty of this with my debit card). Cash-only just seems too...risky, for some reason. It's too easy to misplace/lose.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
cash burns a hole in my pocket BAD. And I can't keep track of where my money goes with cash. With my debit card at least I can go back and see where I nickel and dimed my money away to. That's important to me b/c if I don't watch where it goes, I over spend. So I stick with my card.
emalove emalove 9 years
I'm a debit card girl...I hate carrying cash, never have more than $50 or so on me.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I don't think I could ever do this. I don't like the thought if I ever lost my waller someone would have my money.
Creativa404 Creativa404 9 years
This is a great idea and I think it will help stick to a budget. I'll take out my cash for the week on Sunday nights, but it has to last me through the week and weekend. I hate not having money to spend on the weekend, so it will encourage me to save throughout the week.Theory is a dollar here and there adds up - - especially when you are left with a handful of change from a $1.05 purchase! The reward is getting to "blow" whatever money i have left over and watching my debit account stack up :-) Thanks Savvy!
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