Why I Pay Cash

I’m accustomed to getting odd looks and the occasional remark about paying cash for everything. In a society where people use a debit card or credit card to pay for anything, even a two dollar cup of coffee, cash can seem like a relic from the past. A few people I know don’t even carry it any more.

But the sideways glances and snarky remarks have lessened. Why? Probably due to the rash of customer information security breaches these past year involving Target, Chase Bank, K-Mart, Staples, Zappos, ebay, UPS, McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, and Living Social, just to name the ones we know about.

If you’ve paid with a credit or debit card at one of these retailers, chances are your personal financial information is in the digital wind, and there’s very little you can do about it. Certainly, you’ll want to change your account numbers and passwords and pray online fraudsters pass you by.

Going forward, you may want to get in the habit of carrying currency and paying cash for what you buy. You’ll find it not only protects your identity, it actually encourages you to spend less. Little numbers on a little receipt hardly register in the mind these days; taking a five dollar bill out of your wallet and handing it over for a designer cup of coffee will make you think. (It makes me cringe, actually.)

And take retailers’ promises of keeping your data safe with a grain of salt. Their intentions are good, but the reality is harsh: when I asked a friend of mine who consults in technology about online security, he simply replied, “There isn’t any.”


2 thoughts on “Why I Pay Cash

  1. If I may sound a note of dissent, I find that I spend with cash much more easily than I do with a credit card. Cash gets spent on small expenses and I never seem to be able to remember what I spent it on. In fact, whatever cash I have in my pocket, as far as I’m concerned its already gone, I just haven’t physically handed it over yet. And when its gone I won’t have any idea where it went. Once I take it out of my bank account, it might as well have already been spent.

    With credit cards however, I am much more careful. For one thing, I always feel like I am paying twice; once when I purchase the item and again when I get the credit card statement at the end of the month. Also, when the bill arrives I have to pay for not just that item, but everything else I have charged to that card that month. This makes it glaringly obvious how much damage I’ve done with the card that month and forces me to consider whether I really needed to buy all those things now that the bill has come due and I have to pay for them all at once.

    This has taught me to be very careful with credit card purchases. Cash flows like water: a sandwich, a taxi ride, a newspaper, a cup of coffee. To me, the numbers on the bank and investment account statements are what’s real. Its funny, but in a way, cash almost seems less real than those little black digits on a piece of paper.

    But I’m sure I’m in the minority on this. The best system is the one that works for you.

    1. That is funny, but you do have the right mental picture when you say you feel like you “pay for it twice” by paying with a credit card. That will definitely make you think twice before spending. And you’re absolutely right about “whatever system works for you”. Thanks, Amy. – BGT

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