Cash v Card


How many times have I heard …

That it is easier not to spend money if you carry cash in your wallet?

[who knows? it was a rhetorical question]

I’m sure it works for some people, and judging by the amount of times I’ve read it online lately, it actually probably works for most people. It does not, however, work for me. At all.

My brain works on numbers [mostly] and I can tell you at pretty much any time exactly how much money I have in my bank account [or, you know, all of my bank accounts] — and if I know I have $23.87 in my bank, and I’m about to buy lunch for $11.50 – you can make a pretty safe bet that I’m working all my future planning around the fact that I have $12.37 remaining.

However — if I know I have $23.87 in my account, and I withdraw $20 for lunch — I’m now working on the assumption that I have $3.87 left for the fortnight/week/year/whatever. What happens to the remaining $8.50 in change? I have absolutely no idea. It’s in my wallet. This could mean a number of things – including, but not limited to: spending it on random cheap lollies near counters, spending it on notebooks and other stationary [which, by the way, I never use], chucking it on the table near the door [which generally means it’s up for grabs if my housemate or I want to walk to the shop for some junk food], or – most likely of all – I’ll lend it to someone, forget that I have, and then never get it back.

Are any of these things necessary? Absolutely not. But I’ll do them, probably 90% of the time.

So yes, I know that there are psychological studies that say you are less likely to break a $100 note on an ice-cream worth $2 than you are to break a $5 note on it. But to me, they might as well be the same, because as soon as that money leaves my bank account – it disappears from my mental balance sheet.

Different things work for different people, and that’s just fine with me – I just get super annoyed when people around me make comments like “you mustn’t be doing well with your budget, you pay everything by card!”




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