I am not shy about being a big fan of Dave Ramsey and have been using the envelope system for years. If you don’t know, this is where you make a budget and take cash out of the bank every payday to put in envelopes for different spending categories. Our envelopes include food, entertainment, home supplies, date night, clothing and Christmas. Everything else is paid for online, check or automatic deduction.
With a growing family, our biggest envelope is food. I attempt to keep our food budget as low as it can go because kids don’t really care about fancy dishes. If it’s yummy, they are going to eat it (except for that one fish taco incident).
Anyway, I use cash when I go grocery shopping. In recent months where I get up to the cashier, and they are audibly surprised. There is one particular store where they assume I am paying with a card and have to back out of the system to input cash. Every. Single. Time.
I was at another store where the cashier gasped as I pulled out my $10 bill to pay for my item and said, “Oh my gosh! You’re paying in cash?!?” I just smiled and told her that I pay cash for most everything.
I also noticed some stores are cracking down on counterfeit bills, which is understandable. I’ve gotten used to standing there as the cashier marks my bill, raises it up to the light and checks for the necessary security measures. One store required that large bills be double checked by a manager, which has been even more inconvenient. I pull out my bills, and I see this look of doom come over the cashier as they radio for a manager. I found myself apologizing for having cash, then I realized apologizing for offering money for a product is absurd.
Some stores have even switched out cashiers for self-checkout lanes that don’t allow cash – making it even more of an inconvenience.
I know we are becoming a cashless society. I know using my debit card is quicker and more efficient than using cash. However, I choose to make the extra trip to get cash because I know I will spend it differently than if I just have a running total of debits in my checkbook.
I also want to teach my kids the meaning of a dollar. I want them to know that money doesn’t just appear out of nowhere in their lunch account and that they can punch in their student code a billion times with no accountability. I want them to understand that money needs to be worked for and that a lot of time and effort goes into providing for a family.
I also want them to learn to limit their money. When a piece of candy is priced at $1.05, and you only have a dollar, you have to choose something else. It would be so easy just to buy that same candy bar on debit, but those extra cents quickly add up. Being able to physically see the money, the amount it is worth and what you get in exchange for it is important to know.
However, it has come to my attention that I am in the minority when it comes to how we pay for purchases in our society. I don’t know if cash will ever become obsolete, but I hope that it stays around for those like me who use it on a daily basis.
Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.
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