In 2018 I was training for the NYC Marathon and all of my long runs were mapped out around food. I found that the best (or sometimes, only) motivation there is for running an ungodly number of miles at one time is the promise of something delicious waiting for you at the end. I’d celebrate the end of a 15 mile run with a burger I’d read about online, a 20-miler in Chinatown.
After one of my last long runs before the big day, I found myself, as I had dozens of times before, in Dumbo. The piers in Brooklyn Bridge Park had become a second home of sorts by then. I knew where every bathroom (and which ones had toilet paper) were. I had a favorite building (this greenish one that sparkled in the sunlight when I ran by).
It was one of those beautiful fall days in New York. I thought — what could be better than to walk (wobble) home with an iced coffee in hand? Along with my ID and keys, I usually kept a credit card on me during training runs. For some reason, that day, I’d grabbed cash instead.
I walked into a coffee shop, placed my order, and pulled out a five. That’s when I heard it:
Sorry. We don’t take cash.
These were pre pay-for-the-subway-with-your Apple Watch days. The concept of cashless was still sort of a new concept. To me, anyway. And, up until that point, I had a pretty agnostic attitude toward the whole thing. Now, the only thing standing between me and my running raison d’être was a no-cash policy.
Putting aside the ways cashless societies are harmful to elderly people, people without credit cards, people without bank accounts, etc. — it also makes spending (and overspending) so (too) easy. According to Forbes, a 2001 MIT study found that, when it comes to spending habits, “shoppers spend up to 100% more when using their credit card to pay instead of cash.”
With each new tap-to-purchase technology there is less and less room for the nana-school-of-finance, which requires that a person walk into a bank, fill out a withdrawal slip, speak directly with a human bank employee to withdraw said cash and then keep it in the little bank envelope it comes in until it runs out.
Bills, meaningless-feeling pieces of germ-infested paper they may be, stress me out to have and pain me to fork over. When I do use it, it has often taken on a “doesn’t count” quality. If you don’t see the transaction in your bank statement, it’s kind of like it never happened. Right?
It is with all of this in mind (and the fact that I am still, you know, $15,000 in credit card debt) that I’ve decided to make like my beloved nail salon and go cash only — for a month. Aside from things I have to pay for online or are automatically deducted from my bank account, I will attempt to make all other purchases sans plastic (or smartphone).
Like I did during my no-restaurant-or-shopping month in July, I will be posting daily updates on my TikTok. But I’ll also share some thoughts and revelations here, too. What I am hoping to find is even more intentionality around spending, a bit of exposure therapy to combat my fear of cash and ways to incorporate the habits learned during this month into my longterm budgeting and money behaviors.
Stay tuned for what is sure to be an illuminating and frustrating few weeks.
Amazing! Can’t wait to read/hear about the journey! I may learn a thing or two or 50!!
I tried SO hard to not download TT, but since you are there and everything you do just shines, ~le sigh~ here I am. On TT. Following exaxtly one person. 😀