Cash Only, Week 3: My Changing Relationship With Money


photo: stuartpilbrow

On April 1, blogger Julia Scott gave up her credit cards for one month. The goal of her experiment: find out whether using cash only will get her to spend less. After a surprisingly spend-happy first week (she exceeded her weekly budget by more than 60%!) and a belt-tightening Week 2, Julia recaps what happened during the third week of her experiment.

I have been paying for everything with cash for three weeks – just one week to go before I can start swiping my plastic again – and my spending habits have changed drastically. I have gotten over my paranoia of running out of cash, though I am still obsessively adding up my purchases before I approach the register. I am also:

* Annoyed by how messy cash is. The bills make my wallet hard to zip up and the change bangs around noisily. It takes more time to count out a lot of bills and coins, especially when paying for large purchases.

* Less likely to leave the house with money. It’s the best way to guarantee I don’t spend anything!

* Aware that paying with cash alternatively makes me feel like I am in the mob or I am poor. Depends on how big the purchase is. Bigger than $50? Mob. Less than $50? Poor. Something about counting out one dollar bills and pennies until I have exact change to hand over makes me feel just how finite my supply of cash is. 

* Probably going to use more cash from now on, instead of putting everything on my card to gain credit card rewards. It is too early to tell the effect, if any, this credit-less experiment has had on me, but I’m getting the sense that if I used cash for all my small purchases, I would spend less. Before this experiment, I spent very little in cash.

* Eager to get my credit card and debit card back in my wallet. I like the security blanket they provide me.

* Still clueless about where the majority of my money is going. No one gives receipts!

And for all of you wondering how I did on my $157 bi-weekly budget (Ramen noodles? Dip into savings? Another way out?), stay tuned for next week’s post, when I’ll give you the full recap on my month without credit cards and how this experiment changed my spending habits.

Julia Scott blogs about saving money on everyday expenses like groceries, gasoline, and gifts at 


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