My first job was as a milkboy when I was 12. My boss paid me in cash each week. When I joined the workforce, the bank gave me a cheque book. A few years later, they gave me a credit card. I still had to sign the card, but then the bank took away that option, just using a pin code. Now you can just wave your card at a machine. What’s next, a retina scan? Blink twice and it’s yours?
The problem with this is that banks have gradually removed your thinking process from your spending action. When I think about it, the last time that I had full control of my spending was when I was paid in cash. So, here’s a suggestion; put the cards away and just use cash. Try it for a few months and monitor what you spend. It is a lot more painful when you had over a few twenties than when you wave your card.
But what about the rewards points, or Airpoints, that the banks give you? They’re a con. You’ll save a lot more by using cash than you’ll ever earn through these schemes. Besides, the only way you can get points is to spend money.
Going fully cash-only might be scary at first. What if you have to put things back at the check-out? What about emergencies? I’m not saying you should cut up the cards (yet), but at least try it for the non-essential spending. You’ll be surprised how your thinking changes when your fixed supply of cash starts to dwindle. You’ll become more aware of what you’re buying and of your choices.
Mark Lynch is a Financial Adviser. His Disclosure Statement is available free upon request. Any comments in this column are the opinion of the writer and should not be construed as financial advice.