Y’all should know by now I am a Dave Ramsey follwer if you’ve read more than one post on this blog. One of the few areas I disagree with Dave is in his assertation that people spend more when they use plastic (aka debit or credit cards) than when they spend cash. Nick over at Punny Money says this doesn’t apply to him, although his reasons are very different from mine.
My problem with using cash (and Dave Ramsey’s cash envelope system) is that I don’t tend to feel ownership of cash. It’s called currency because it is supposed to flow! LOL This probably goes way back to when I was twelve and got a newspaper route, way back in the dark ages when paper carriers knocked on the door and collected the money. I handled lots of cash, usually ones and fives, but I always figured it really wasn’t mine until I had paid my newspaper bill for the entire route. So my first job as a kid was handling cash that wasn’t really mine.
After the paper route, I got a job as a car hop at the root beer stand down the street from me. Again, I carried cash to make change since this was still the dark ages (well, maybe early Rennaisance) and the stand didn’t take plastic. In the fall I then took a job working inside a delivery pizza place that didn’t accept plastic either, although we did take checks. I answered the phones, made pizzas, watched the oven, and -You guessed it!- ran the register.
In fact, since I heeded my mother’s advice and have never worked retail, I never had to learn how to process a credit card transaction until this spring when I became a pizza delivery driver at Domino’s. I still handle quite a bit of cash every night I work, simply because most people still use it. So I still have this disconnect between cash and pain, especially when I can and have handled over $400 in cash in one single shift on a busy Friday night delivering pizzas. Somewhere in the back of my mind is this little voice that says, “It’s not mine,” when I do handle cash…even when it actually IS mine!
So last month I gave away my delux envelope system to a coworker I have introduced to Dave Ramsey, after I showed her how to make a proper budget that will work. She prefers to handle cash rather than use a debit card (she doesn’t believe in credit cards even without Dave Ramsey!) so the envelopes were the perfect gift for her. Honestly, they were just sitting on my computer desk anyway. I use my debit card and keep a cushion in my account as a “baby baby emergency fund” since that number on the screen (my account) is what I truly identify with…THAT is actually MY money! Do I spend more this way? I don’t believe so, because cash has always burned a hole in my pocket … if I have it I will spend it. So, what’s YOUR take on the plastic vs cash debate?