Thursday, May 14, 2009

Going Green (and I'm not talking about the environment)

After clearing away the tornado wreckage that was the state of my office this morning after a serious sewing binge, I thought I would direct my thoughts for the first time in days on something other than zig zag stitches and business cards.

Naturally money came to mind first.

You see, I was talking briefly with a friend this week about budgeting, and she mentioned that one of her friends had moved to an all cash system for their household finances. Apparently it was working out really well for them, and they were making progress on their financial goals.

All Cash?
But all cash? I had to ask. Could it really help? Was it even possible? There are all kinds of debates going on in the world about the best way to save and spend money. In fact, I was just reading the latest issue of Time magazine where they compared budgeting to dieting, and recommended all the familiar do’s and don’ts (don’t forbid certain purchases, do schedule rewards, etc. etc.). And certainly I have heard that going “all cash” is a clever little psychological trick to keep money in your wallet. Because the rumor is that those handy plastic cards don’t feel like money the way that the green paper and silver coins do. I can see how that would be the case.

A Plastic Convenience...
I can also see, however, how impractical it would be for me to pay everything with the green stuff. Like me counting out change at the gas station. Or sending my nickels in the mail for my gas bill. (I’m being facetious--I’m sure the “cash” system affords for practical deviations.) I’m just so fond of the convenience of plastic.

Worth Trying!
Nevertheless, both my friend and I agreed that using cash for things like groceries, and anything involving me stepping my foot into Target, might be beneficial. So I thought perhaps I would try it. After all, I mentioned on Monday that there were still some budgeting goals that I wanted to tackle before the sun (temporarily) sets on Recessionistas, and this could be a good exercise along that vein.

How About You?
But I’m curious to hear from you. Have any of you readers tried a cash system for spending? Do you think that it would make a difference? Or more generally, do you currently use any clever tricks to keep you financially on track? Please share by commenting below!

And yes, I know that I have lots of sewing updates for you all. Like pictures from my red dress (still have to finish those sleeves!), and a follow-up from last night’s Best Birth Event, and the latest about my efforts in online commerce... I promise it’s all coming!

Previous Recessionista Posts on Budgeting:
Smarty Pants: Fraud Protection
28 Days Makes a Habit (or so they say)
The New Midas Touch
Can I Get a Pulse?


  1. My husband and I have used a modified cash system (bills, gas, online items on cards & all other purchases including groceries with cash)since he lost his job last year. It definitely takes more trips to the bank and more clicks on the calculator than we were used to but the result has been successfully living on less than half of what we were making before! And that includes trips to our favorite coffee shop and date nights :)

  2. I think that your system sounds like it would save me some money... Kudos to you! I'll have to try it--

  3. We have been using a cash only system since 2005. When my husband decided to be a teacher (he went from a corporate job to teaching - his choice - so he made 1/3 his income). SOOO...we had to make some major first in 2001 it was very difficult to make the changes...we spent more than we made, but after a reality check (can't be doing that for too long) we took care of our debts and are on a cash only system.

    We figured that if we don't have it we can't spend it. So we got rid of ALL credit cards! We have a savings for "troubles" - a money market one so it gains higher than a savings, but we can write a check out of it if need be. We own (have mortgages on) two homes (one wont sell - thank goodness for renters), we have my husband's student loan, and my car payment. That is ALL for debt.

    Everything else, we own outright! That is a pretty fantastic feeling. We sure aren't rich - but we are "secure", and even if my husband lost his job, we'd be fine - we have a little leverage - thanks to only using cash.

    And as how we use cash - we each get a monthly allowance, and cash for groceries (means planning). Then I write checks for all bills. Gas goes on debit card - so I have to deduct it right away. Thanks to modern technology, I can check our bank balance in a heartbeat! It has worked for us for 4 years now. I totally recommend getting rid of the plastic - why do you need it - that is the question to ask.

    Thanks - love your blog!


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