Brain Change

Focus on life through a simplified mind

Credit card no more

Three days ago I locked up my credit cards.  My wife and I decided to no longer carry a card and use cash only.  Am I crazy for no longer packing a card for “emergencies”?  I do not think so.  In short here is why I think we made a great decision.

It is to tempting to pull out your card for impulse buying and non emergency spending.

Yesterday I was going to take a friend to lunch,  I stopped when I realized I no longer carry a credit card with me and I had no cash on me.  Yes i went out into the world without cash or a credit card and I survived!  The result?  I could not take my friend out to lunch which may have cost me some good conversation but it also saved me around $25.  I am not advocating never buying a good friend a meal I am just saying since I didnt have my card or cash on hand, I ended up keeping $25 more dollars of my next paycheck to myself. 

You spend more when you use plastic

When I am at a restaraunt paying for a meal with a card I usually add the standard 15% tip regardless of the service and for small price meals i have even placed a standard $5 tip on my card for a $10 meal.   Dave Ramsey who wrote the Total Money Makeover explains that your brain does not associate what the “real” cost of goods are when you just write a number down and place your signature on the dotted line.  Dave mentions that there is  pain associated with handing over cold hard cash that forces your brain to challenge the value of the item or items you are buying and you will find by using cash you will not  “need” all the extra items when you hit the grocery store. 

But I have the self control to watch my spending on my card

No you can’t, the siren song of retailers, the marketing juggernaut of credit companies, or the rationalization of your own mind will in fact entice you to make a simple purchase here and there and you will slip.  One month you will wake up with more on your card than you can afford to pay.  And you will be stuck with items that probably didn’t provide you happiness and continue to accrue interest on top of the original purchase price.  The only cure for this cancer is to cut it out.  Stop using credit at all costs.

So with what I have just outlined until further notice I will be using cash only along with a debit card and only buy the essentials.   This I hope will help us further along the path of reducing consumerism that has plagued us for all of our life.  And help us focus more on what really matters in life.

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October 6, 2010 - Posted by | minimalism, Personal Finance | , ,


  1. We have been trying the cash diet. I seem to do very well and usually have money left at the end of the week. However, my significant other seems to think money grows on trees and spends his cash the same as he would with the debit card. I believe, for most people, it definitely is harder to spend cash vs. plastic money, but what do you do when the other half isn’t on the same page?

    Comment by rita | October 6, 2010 | Reply

    • an unscrupulous spouse can definetly be a frustration when your trying to make real changes in your lives. Paraphrasing Dave Ramsey here is the basic advice for this

      Dont be the boss and say this what Dave says to do, this will only build resentment. Instead make sure both of you are equal and are voting equaly on how you are going to spend your money. Do this by sitting down monthly and writing down your budget for the month. Include all the bills and discretinary spending you both want to do. This cannot be one sided, meaning you cannot go make the budget and say “here you go honey” follow this. You both have to agree on each line on the budget so you are both bought into it. Now that you have your budget on paper you have to hold each other accountable for it. Absolutely no spending money if it wasnt on the budget. If there is and he still is taking more cash than he agreed too out of the bank. You can then confront and ask why did he commit to you then not do it, also read this. Remember your part as well you dont want to be caught overspending if you have agreed to only spend whats on paper. It is tough starting out getting both spouses to sit down monthly and do the budget, you may get it wrong here and there and forget events or recurring bills but once you have a few months under your belt. it becomes super easy. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have both of you together sit down and work on it. It is a useless piece of paper if only one person “figures” it out. Thanks for posting I hope this helps.

      Comment by Justin Guzman | October 8, 2010 | Reply

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