Inspired by the Slow Food vibe in this bountiful Cowichan Valley, my husband and I are applying the same think-before-you-consume approach to our spending. To help us in this effort, we’re using cash only this month; credit cards are forbidden.
We’re not doing this because we’re burdened by consumer debt; I pity those fools. But it does seem like we’re spending too much every month. We not so good at budgeting. Our policy is to only spend what we have, and thus far that system has worked. But lately we’ve noticed spend creep. We think that by ditching our credit cards, and only spending the cash in our wallets (no direct debit or cheques either!), we’ll keep a closer eye on what we spend.
We’re 9 days in. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- We have no idea how much things cost.
- We’re thoughtless consumers.
- It’s uncomfortable carrying cash — at first.
My friend asked me how much a loaf of bread at Saison Market costs. I had no idea. My mom can tell a good price for beef in a grocery store; I can’t tell you what a bad price is. And because we have no idea how much things cost, we’re not making the best choices when it comes to buying food. We can do better.
My husband had to buy a foot plate for his kayak. It cost $160. Luckily, he had $200 in his wallet, having just been to the bank. He stood at the counter for a few minutes considering the consequences of this purchase. It was painful to let that money go having just acquired it. When would he find another cash machine? Was it worth buying the foot plate all? If he had the option of using a credit card, he wouldn’t have thought twice. (Well, maybe twice. $160 for a foot plate? Ridiculous). A budget would help us do better in this case.
We were on holiday for the first cash-only week, so we had to carry a lot of money with us. That made me nervous. But then we stopped at a garage sale, which was cash only. And then we stopped at a fruit stand, which was cash only. And then the ice cream van, which is unfortunately cash only, stopped in front of the park my kids were playing at. Back in the old days (9 days ago) when I used credit cards, I rarely carried cash so was frustrated in cash-only situations. Cash is less restrictive than credit cards, and so makes me feel more free.
So far we’re not spending less money (the holiday to the Okanagan didn’t help), but we’re already more aware of how, when and what we’re buying. We value each dollar we spend. Shame we didn’t start sooner.