Switching From Plastic To Cash

I wrote last week about a friend who had asked for some advice on an investment proposal. I didn't know what he was going to do in the end and unfortunately, for the sake of the story, I still don't. That's ok - He may still not know what they are going to do.

I spoke with him again this week and it seems that our talk and my advice did have a profound affect on him, but in a way that I did not anticipate.

Some more framework... I had known, even before our conversation about the investment proposal, that they were having some spending issues. It wasn't like they were going broke, or being foreclosed on, or getting behind. They were just having issues controlling their spending. They could easily pay the bill each month and were doing so. The week prior he had mentioned that they were debt-free except for the house. (Yay!) It had just become too easy to drop some serious cash on items without feeling it until the bill came. Worst of all, shopping had become a way of self-medicating the other issues in their lives. But I didn't 'technically' know any of that as we had not discussed it and it did not come up in our discussion the week prior.

Our families had gotten together for a cookout and there were others there as well. A few of us were chatting about what was new, and that's when he hit me with it. After our discussion, they had decided to put the credit cards in the drawer, and switch to using cash. (!) The Mrs. scolded me later, "You didn't tell me that you guys had talked about that!" Well, we didn't - not directly at least. They had used cash envelopes early in their marriage (you remember when you didn't have money, but you had love.... and it's a good thing you had love, because you didn't have any money). They knew how to do it, and they knew that it worked well. But after talking about Dave Ramsey and coordinating FPU classes, it got him to do some investigating. If you know anything about Dave, then you can finish connecting the dots.

I was very proud of them. They had not only made the big step of recognizing the problem, but they had made the huge step of doing something about it. It felt like we were back leading an FPU class. I can't wait to see how they do.

See, it's not that overspending always equals going broke. You can still be overspending and living within your means. It's not that those little plastic devils cause you to do it, but they are fabulous enablers to misbehavior with money.

Would you consider going cash-only to curb out-of-control spending? Have you ever gone cash-only?


Green Me said...

I did cash only for a few years before I married my husband. Now we don't carry any debt other than our mortgage and we use credit cards as that "fabulous" tool. Nevertheless, we have been in active discussion as to whether or not our credit cards are helping us to have bad spending habits!

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