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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Could you go cashless?

As I am sure you’ve read across the blogosphere, a lot of people who are working their way out of debt or have worked their way out of debt have chosen to not use credit cards at all. Some still use debit cards, others have gone to a cash-only plan (though I assume there are still checks written for bills – I can’t imagine mailing an envelope of cash to the cable company).

Is it possible, however, to do exactly the opposite and use a no-cash plan? A plastic only plan (meaning no checks)? I’m sure there are people out there doing it without realizing it. And it seems that every movie and book about the future seems to think that we will be a cashless society at some point.

When I first sat down to write this post, I thought that a no-cash, plastic only plan would be difficult, but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s doable.

Personally, I could do it, but it wouldn’t be worth it. First off, while I can pay my rent electronically, there’s an additional charge. I also believe there is a fee associated with doing bill pay direct from the bank to my particular apartment complex. Until that fee is waived, I will be writing a rent check.

I don’t use much cash, though I don’t like to be without it. I try to always have $20 in my wallet, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure. What do I spend my cash on? I’ll use it if I’m making a very small purchase where it seems ridiculous to pull out the credit card, but mostly it goes to the Farmer’s Market or for splitting bills when I go out for drinks with coworkers.

Without cash, I could still go out for drinks and split the bill, it would just be more complicated. I would likely end up with the cash from everyone else and then have to deposit it. The Farmer’s Market is a different story. While a few of the vendors do take credit cards, that’s mostly those selling higher priced things. The vendors I buy from, the ones selling fresh fruits and vegetables, don’t take anything but cash. Do I need to shop at the Farmer’s Market? No. But it’s something I like.

Eventually, I think we will go to a cashless society. I have no idea when that will be, but it seems likely. Of course, that just adds to the risk of people being able to overspend and rack up extreme credit card debt.

Do you think you could go cashless? Would you want to?

Abundant Life Spending Spree - $400

I bet you thought I was going to go for a Kindle after yesterday's post. Nope, today's random purchase, if I had $400 to spend would be a new iPod and an Aerogarden. Yes, I realize the Aerogarden isn't all it's made out to be, but hey, this is $400 that I'm supposed to be throwing around!


budgets are sexy said...

Oh man, i could never go cashless! And that's only because i feel it's very safe to have at LEAST $5-$10 in your pockets at all times for emergencies (just like you in this sense).

c/c's can't do everything...yet ;)

CelticBuffy said...

I just don't feel secure without some cash in my wallet or in the house. I'm not big into the Bible but did read the "Left Behind" series and the move to an all electronic, cashless society is a little scary in the sense that EVERY transaction you did would be there for someone to see. But I'm just a little paranoid like that. On the flip side, as a parent, I like being able to track my teen's checking account online. So I guess, I'm a little hypocritical. :)

asgreen said...

Right now I use my credit card for everything I possibly can. Even those $4 purchases at the drug store. For me, it's an easier way to track my money, I'm racking up credit card points and I have a system of paying it off at the end of every week. I still use cash for things I obviously can't. (And checks when there are no other choices or when fees are invloved.) But I rely pretty heavily on plastic.

Kacie said...

I'm not totally cashless, but I'm really close! I pay all of my bills online. I use my debit card for pretty much all of my purchases.

I do have about $20 in my glove box in my car for times when I find myself in a cash-only place.

I like the convenience, and I like being able to easily track my purchases.

But, I sometimes wonder if it would be a good idea to give going all cash a try.

catfish said...

I don't think I could ever go cashless. I'd always be worried about c/c systems failing and not being able to pay for needed stuff.

Plus I'm like you. I'm not paying a fee for conveience.

Suburban Survivalist said...

I'm trying to go plastic-less, and I try to use cash whenever possible.

bluntmoney said...

I could go cashless pretty easily. I almost never carry cash at all, and right now I write at MOST 1-2 checks per month. I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to find some other method of payment. In fact I'm running low on checks, after something like 7 years? and I'm wondering if I should bother reordering them. But I think this varies by area. People here don't blink an eye if you use a debit card to buy a stamp. Where in other areas of the country, they'd probably charge you to do so. And in other countries, they might not even have the option.

Brad said...

No problem at all. Been going cashless for over a year or so. It couldnt be easier. There has only been one gas station where we have to have a minimum purchase so we just don't go there.

If I lose my cash it's gone. If i lose my card I cancel it and have a new one tommorow.

If you don't have the disciple to stick to paying off the card but if you can pay it off i don't see one positive to cash.

slinkystar2002 said...

I use a debit card for everything I can. I use my credit union to send out checks for bills (free). I write a check for our rent (it goes in a drop box in the hall). If I really need cash for something I take it out just for that thing. If I get cash from somewhere I deposit it in the bank. Ideally, I'd use my card and bank for everything.

broush said...

Ahh, but what would I stuff into a stripper's panties?

Seriously, I'm like you--carry around $10 - $20 in case I need a bus or whatever, but basically only spend cash at the farmers' market. Joining a CSA program (basically a farmers' market but with just a few large payments instead of weekly small payments) is a way to avoid using cash but getting the same result.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in the US, I operated virtually cashless, keeping only $20 in my wallet should I need it and using plastic for as much as I could. I routed what bills I could to my credit card, if I could not; I set them up for ‘Auto Debit’ from my checking account. My credit card was (still is) paid in full automatically every month, carrying a zero balance. I am now living in Italy, is cash only here, or should I say cash is preferred here. I do not like carrying around hundreds of Dollars worth of EURO with me, if it is lost, or most likely stolen here, there is no hope of recovery. If one does not keep a receipt for a bill paid, the company will say, “The bill was not paid, you need to pay the bill.” More paper to keep track of, not what I like to do. One fellow I worked with that actually set up his ISP bill to be ‘paperless’ and is still having charges to his credit card, even though he canceled his service and left the country over a year ago.

Bad News Bear said...

I'm 99.9% cashless - the only time I use cash is when I take cab rides, which is at least two times a week. I could hang around for a cabbie that takes credit cards, but it's generally inefficient.

Oh, I suppose I use quarters for parking meters. Fine... 99.8% cashless.

Rich said...

I can't remember the last time I spent cash. I sold something yesterday and have $10 cash in my wallet right now, more than I've had for months.

We write two checks every month.
1) Tithing -- Our church only takes cash or check
2) Baby sitter -- But I'm going to see if we can do electronic deposit for her too

We do have $150ish dollars cash in the house for emergencies, and keeping some in the car is a good idea.

We send e-checks for free through our credit union (and paper checks via our ING account). Our preferred method of payment though is our credit card. We get cash back, and the money to pay off the card sits in our ING account earning interest till it's time to pay off the card each month.