Photo: Sharon McCutcheon
The PEW Research Institute reports that one-third of Americans say they never use cash for purchases. This statistic hardly warrants explanation, but is convenience actually a fair trade for the potential health and fiscal benefits of relying on physical currency more frequently?
In defense of cold-hard cash
Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions For Everyday Life is a book written by Dr. Brian Wansink back in 2013. It’s composed of unconventional dietary mechanisms. As an economist and food psychologist, Wansink bridges the gap between behavioral discipline and prudent spending habits.
He finds that, in addition to spending less, people that favor cash over card tend to buy less fatty foods at work. The ease of the swipe emboldens the temptation to succumb to desserts and sugary beverages.
It’s also easier to keep track of how much you’re spending habitually when you use cash because the record is readily obtainable. The act of handing over your cash has been proven to be a physically uncomfortable thing to witness.
Your money is disappearing in a much more tangible way. Having a card on hand requires much more willpower. Once all the cash is gone from your pocket, that’s it – no debt, no interest.
Cash also saves retailers money given vendors have to pay a fee for each and every swipe. You might have noticed signs in grocery stores that offer discounted goods for customers that use physical currency.
I personally find cash to be much more manageable as far as budgeting is concerned – even if I must concede that it is every bit as hard to let go of as it is to keep. Deciding to primarily use cash as a spending prohibitor must also be accompanied with behavioral changes.
Decide the amount of money you reserve for surplus spending. Once you’ve reasoned one, take no more than that amount with you per day and utilize cards only for emergencies.