Realistic Money Saving Tips: Leave Your Card at Home

There are some crazy money-saving schemes out there. I’m not going to suggest that you steal ketchup packets from McDonald’s instead of buying a bottle or that you sneak toilet paper from the bathroom at work. These are some of the things we actually do (or are trying to do) to cut back, and hopefully they will be practical and helpful for you too.

If you’re just tuning in, check out the previous posts in this series:

#3 Leave your card at home

Consider making a habit of carrying cash instead of your card. The best thing about a credit card is also the worst thing. It allows you to spend all kinds of money you don’t have in an instant. Not only can you spend money you don’t have, you can build up interest that you’ll have to pay back as well. Debit cards, while not as dangerous, also allow you to spend large (maybe) amounts of money instantly, depending on how much you have in your account.

We’ve found that as a young (rather impulsive) couple, a debit card can be a perilous convenience. We once went to Walmart for groceries and returned with a 55” TV. Really.

You may carry a credit card for emergencies. Carry cash instead. There aren’t going to be many emergencies that require hundreds of dollarscreditcard with no opportunity for you to go home and grab your card or run to the bank (unless you’re traveling). There is a chance that you may be in an emergency where you need cash instead of a card (power outages, internet failure at the gas station).

Cash is also better for small businesses. Have you noticed that many small businesses charge you more to use your card? This is because credit card companies like Visa charge around 75 cents per transaction. At the coffee shop where I used to work, this took a large cut out of our profit. If you only spend $1.50, and 75 cents go to Visa, it barely pays for our materials and labor. So, many small businesses have to pass on the fee to you. Avoid this by paying with cash!

I’m not suggesting that you don’t own a credit card. There are some pretty sweet rewards programs out there. And if you plan carefully and pay your bill every month, it will also improve your credit. But consider leaving it at home unless you have a purchase planned in advance. 

Take it from the proud (not really) owner of a 55” impulse TV.

How do you cut down on impulse purchases?

Check out the next post in this series: Netflix Instead of Cable

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