I went green (as in greenbacks) last month. I put away the credit cards, operated on a cash-only basis and hung out with the guys Washington, Lincoln and Jackson.
With the current economic turmoil, it seemed like a good time to estimate how much I spend running the house and see how far off I was.
Sure, you can track what you spend with a credit card, but it's not real time. By the time you're going over your charges a month after you made them, you have no idea why a sane person would go to Wal-Mart 9 times in one billing period.
Besides, plastic isn't real money.
Just like the politicians working with numbers on paper aren't spending real money. If they carted those billions in bundled bills by wheelbarrows from D.C. to every corporation getting a bailout, we wouldn't have a president asking Congress to cut the equivalent of a latte from next year's budget.
We wouldn't have a Congress. They would have been run out of town several hundred billion dollars ago.
I loosely estimated what I spend on groceries, clothes and assorted household items in a month and made a cash withdrawal at the bank.
I was out of funds by the 10th.
Being that I had already proven myself right that I underestimate what I spend on a daily basis with credit cards I rewarded myself with a another trip to the bank for more cash. When that was gone, it was no money no shop-ey.
Here are the differences between paying with plastic and paying with cash:
First and foremost it hurts.
Secondly, you develop hostile feelings toward mundane purchases like glass cleaner, baking soda and grass seed.
When you spend cash, you're more inclined to dig around for something you thought you saw in the garage five years ago than to rush out and buy a new one.
Lingering desires to continue swiping credit cards is so intense you are tempted to swipe your driver's license at the grocery store checkout for old time's sake.
When you see cash literally slipping through your hands, you take better care of what you already have.
You realize that a $3 greeting card is a total waste of money and hit the 99-cent display.
When you shop with a credit card, you ask yourself, "When is that screen going to pop up so I can scribble my name?" When you shop with cash, you ask yourself, "Is this really necessary?"
When you spend cash, you plan meals more carefully and treat your leftovers with respect. The words "let's eat out" do not roll off your tongue.
Impulse buying plummets to almost zero.
When you near the end of your allotted dollars, you spend slowly and thoughtfully and promise yourself not to take it out on the husband, small children and furry animals.
When you spend cash, the best part of the month isn't when you load your wallet it's when you open the credit card bill.