I’m going to say something controversial here. I think you shouldn’t use cash. Ever since Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover came out (if you haven’t read it, I fully recommend it as a great starting place) it seems like everyone these days is using cash. Dave recommends it as a tool to keep your spending in check and while he makes some obviously valid points (you can’t buy things you don’t have the money for when your using cash versus using a credit card) I just find that using cash doesn’t work for me. With some careful planning and tracking spending, I’ve been able to successfully pay off +$200k of student loan debt using *gasp* a credit or debit card. If cash works best for you– that’s great! If it doesn’t, you can still be successful in keeping your spending in check without hitting up the ATM. Here are the reasons you shouldn’t use cash (or more appropriately, the reason’s I don’t.)
It gets lost.
First and foremost, you shouldn’t use cash because cash gets lost and stolen. The worst part of losing your cash, obviously, is that there is no recourse. When you lose a debit or credit card, you can cancel it and replace it so that you don’t lose any money in the process. When you lose cash, it’s gone forever. I fully recognize that most humans aren’t as bad as me at losing things… but I am constantly losing things. I honestly can’t afford to carry cash.
Drug dealers/users carry cash.
Another reason to not use cash is because drug dealers use cash. Having worked in criminal law for a few years, I’ve had tons of cases involving drug deals. And you know what is almost always found in a drug possession or dealing transaction? Cash. Drug deals are done with cash. Cash can’t be traced. So, you know what is on 90% of cash? (literally, according to CNN) Cocaine. Cocaine is on 90% of your cash. Not to mention 800 million other germs. So I pass on cash, at least most of the time.
Cash is stressful to use.
There are few things in life that stress me out as much as trying to use cash while I’m checking out, especially at the grocery store. Rummaging around for my cash or cash envelopes, trying to count out coins and dollar bills while my toddler is pulling things off the shelves and my phone is ringing and I’m dropping things… honestly I have anxiety thinking about it right now haha.
Cash is bulky.
You shouldn’t use cash because cash is bulky. If you carry cash, you have to carry a big fat wallet. And you know what the last thing I need in my life is? Something bulky. I already have enough stuff to worry about when I’m leaving the house every morning (my son’s bag for school, my workout bag, lunches, keys, key cards for work, etc etc) I don’t need anything else to worry about. Cash is bulky. Cards are easy.
You’ll still have to use a debit or credit card at some point.
One other beef I have with cash is that you’ll still have to use a debit or credit card at some point anyway– in addition to lugging around cash. These days, with most bills being electronic combined with the fact that more and more merchants aren’t willing to accept checks, you’re going to have to use a card to pay some of your bills. Not to mention the fact that a lot of businesses will give you a discount for setting up automatic online payments, for which you will need a card. So for me, if I’m going to have to use the card anyway, might as well use it for everything.
You can’t earn money or rewards.
I fully get why some people use cash– you can’t spend what you don’t have, so if the cash isn’t there, you can’t spend it. But, if you can just learn to control your spending without using cash, there are some serious rewards to be had. Probably my most important reason why you shouldn’t use cash, is because you’re missing out on free money. And everyone likes free money right? My favorite credit card is this Chase rewards card (affiliate link). I use it for almost all of my day to day purchases.
I know using cash might feel like the end all be all of having control over your money. And I’m not saying you’re wrong. But there are some seriously solid reasons to consider *not* using cash. When it comes to personal finances, my approach is to keep an open mind, and that includes considering paths that might be different than what everyone else seems to be doing. That being said, I do think there are certain people who absolutely should use cash no matter what. If you have serious impulsivity issues, and honestly can’t trust yourself with a credit card– don’t do it! That’s not what I’m saying. All I’m saying is keeping track of your spending and exercising self control are the things that are going to make the biggest difference in your finances– not using cash. Do what’s best for you.
What about you? Do you use cash? Credit cards? Debit cards? Comment below.
P.S. Are you trying to pay off debt? Grab a copy of me FREE Debt Payoff Starter Kit here!— it’s helped thousands of people get started.