Cash Only?

 A strange thing happened to me last night. I stopped by my local grocery store on my way home from work, and was greeted with a hand written poster at the entrance that read; “Sorry - Cash Only” and a store employee that explained their electronic payment processing system was down, and would be hopefully restored soon.  I watched as customers turned away disappointed, declaring that they never carry cash anymore, and checked my own wallet, counting my change too.  My find totaled less than $17.00 but I thought that was enough to buy the all-important cat food and perhaps a few fresh food items, so in I went to practice “living within my means” in the moment, using cash only.  

Most of us have heard the common suggestion for saving money is try using cash only, but how often do we really have to do that these days? I usually plan my shopping and withdraw cash for my intentional spending but like most of us, I carry a debit card which acts as a back-up for indulgences on in-house baking, manager specials or those little “extras” that are not on my list. And if I’m shopping for things such as clothing or gifts, a credit card can be an easy back up for over the budget spending. But this time, I had to penny pinch and make the most of the cash I had. I carefully compared prices and prioritized. I couldn’t compromise on my fussy feline’s cat food, and I didn’t want to compromise my 12 grain bread, but manage to save by buying only two bananas instead of a bunch, and just a handful of fresh green beans; enough for one meal. I did compromise on a brand salad dressing for a no name version, and exercised some self-discipline leaving a wanted snack on the shelf. I saved a bit more than a dollar buying a quart of milk instead of 3 bags but I paid a higher unit price. I left the store with 83 cents to spare, and a fresh outlook on what it truly means to live within my means.

This cash only with no exceptions was an unintentional reminder for me that the plastic cards we carry are an easy way to shop quickly, without taking time to tally our spending, compare or prioritize as we add to our food baskets. Having a back up to cash means I can think less about needs and indulge in more wants; those ‘nice to haves’ like name brand products or specialty foods. On the down side, cash only can mean paying a higher price for some food items and continuous compromises. I prefer to look at the upside and tell myself that cash only allowed me to shop for smaller quantities of fresher, tastier nutritious food, and know that I will have less throw-away food that didn’t get used up before it expired or spoiled.

I regret that my favorite food store would no doubt suffer low sales during their payment disruption, and hope it didn’t last long, but I am thankful for my forced, no cheating “cash only” experience. I think I’ll try leaving my plastic at home more often, stick to my list and see how fast my savings add up!

 A strange thing happened to me last night. I stopped by my local grocery store on my way home from work, and was greeted with a hand written poster at the entrance that read; “Sorry - Cash Only” and a store employee that explained their electronic payment processing system was down, and would be hopefully restored soon.  I watched as customers turned away disappointed, declaring that they never carry cash anymore, and checked my own wallet, counting my change too.  My find totaled less than $17.00 but I thought that was enough to buy the all-important cat food and perhaps a few fresh food items, so in I went to practice “living within my means” in the moment, using cash only.  

Most of us have heard the common suggestion for saving money is try using cash only, but how often do we really have to do that these days? I usually plan my shopping and withdraw cash for my intentional spending but like most of us, I carry a debit card which acts as a back-up for indulgences on in-house baking, manager specials or those little “extras” that are not on my list. And if I’m shopping for things such as clothing or gifts, a credit card can be an easy back up for over the budget spending. But this time, I had to penny pinch and make the most of the cash I had. I carefully compared prices and prioritized. I couldn’t compromise on my fussy feline’s cat food, and I didn’t want to compromise my 12 grain bread, but manage to save by buying only two bananas instead of a bunch, and just a handful of fresh green beans; enough for one meal. I did compromise on a brand salad dressing for a no name version, and exercised some self-discipline leaving a wanted snack on the shelf. I saved a bit more than a dollar buying a quart of milk instead of 3 bags but I paid a higher unit price. I left the store with 83 cents to spare, and a fresh outlook on what it truly means to live within my means.

This cash only with no exceptions was an unintentional reminder for me that the plastic cards we carry are an easy way to shop quickly, without taking time to tally our spending, compare or prioritize as we add to our food baskets. Having a back up to cash means I can think less about needs and indulge in more wants; those ‘nice to haves’ like name brand products or specialty foods. On the down side, cash only can mean paying a higher price for some food items and continuous compromises. I prefer to look at the upside and tell myself that cash only allowed me to shop for smaller quantities of fresher, tastier nutritious food, and know that I will have less throw-away food that didn’t get used up before it expired or spoiled.

I regret that my favorite food store would no doubt suffer low sales during their payment disruption, and hope it didn’t last long, but I am thankful for my forced, no cheating “cash only” experience. I think I’ll try leaving my plastic at home more often, stick to my list and see how fast my savings add up!