Money is necessary. It is not evil and it is not good, but it keeps gas in your car, heat in your home, and clothes on your back. Most people need to have money for one reason or another. We would all like to believe that we don't need money, but we would be lying to ourselves.
However, money is not the problem. The way you use money can be a problem.
Many people rely on credit cards, floating checks, and not paying bills to pay for groceries. I know all about these tricks because I have been guilty of doing all three at one time or another. Most people have done that or worse.
In fact, my budget went bust in September due to a high rise in school expenses. I did not have that much money budgeted for school expenses (budgeted $100, actual cost $250). In addition to higher school cost in August (budgeted $125, actual $225). These were not my kids' faults and the expenses needed to be paid. High school is a little more expensive at this school. However, it didn't help my checking account.
So I started going back to some tricks to get me by when my budget goes bust and my bank account needs a break.
The first thing I did was join the Once A Month Shopping Challenge. Only shopping, especially grocery shopping, once a month will help my budget greatly. My spending was halted immediately. I had been making 2-3 shopping trips a month to just the grocery store. That is done.
The second thing was to pledge to use cash for any other miscellaneous expenses this month. However, I am not withdrawing cash from my checking account. Like I said before, that account needs a break. I will pay bills, gas for my vehicle, one grocery trip this month, and any other major incidentals from my checking account.
However, I am still using cash first before using my bank account except for bills.
How am I living on cash this month?
1. I am having an online garage sale. I am selling our unwanted things on Facebook garage sale pages and Craigslist. I already have a seller account on Ebay and some things have been listed and sold there too.
2. I am taking cans and bottles back to the redemption center. In Iowa, you can get five cents back for every redeemable bottle or can. We do not drink a lot of pop or alcohol, but we had enough to get rid of all the same. Plus we get cans and bottles thrown into the ditch in front of our house. That is not cool, but it ends up being our gain.
3. I am selling the excess eggs from my chickens.
I could also make things to sell, but I am not very crafty and do not have a lot of materials on hand. I could also pick up some writing jobs, but a lot of times I do not get paid for a few months. However, I am always looking for new ways to make some extra cash.
If you do have these options available to you, be creative. You can only withdraw a certain amount of money from your bank account to use. You can also pick up some small side jobs like mowing, raking leaves, or shoveling snow.
What has this "living on the cash that I have been earning" done for me?
1. I am not just spending recklessly. Every spending decision is weighed carefully. Will I need that money for admission to an event at school, dog food, gas for the car, or something else? Will the kids need something? I don't always know so I try not to spend the cash.
2. No more extra spending. I had to buy dog food on Sunday. I walked into the store, grabbed the dog food, paid for it, and walked right back out of the store. Before this month, I might have grabbed a few other things that we didn't need right away. Now that is not an option.
3. I use cash first before using my debit card or check book. If I have cash, that is what I use. The other two things are only to be used in emergency situations.
4. I enjoy free things even more. I have always taken a lot of joy from the free things in life. However, this has amped it up a bit more. I love free! I also appreciate when sudden surprises show up like a friend bringing me a soda today, just because.
5. I have been trying really hard to waste less. I am actually working on becoming a zero waste household, but we still have a few obstacles to overcome. I am a naturally frugal person who doesn't like to waste anything, but I find myself unconsciously wasting food or things we have. I am working harder on being better at not being wasteful.
Life really is easier living on cash. I know a lot of people say if they have cash in their pocket, they feel like they should spend more freely. In that case, those people need more self-discipline and an alignment of their priorities.
Cash, on the other hand, can help your frugal tendencies because you don't want to spend it. I talk myself out of a lot of purchases when I have to spend just the cash I have on hand.
I am also enjoying this challenge. I will probably continue it as long as I can. I have four kids so I have a lot of things to get rid of!
What is your feelings on cash? Are you a cash only household?
Thanks for reading,