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Cash Only: One Route Out of Debt

Cash Only: One Route Out of Debt

cash

    There are more than a few ways to deal with credit card debt, as well as other financial crunches. More than a few financial gurus recommend making the switch to a cash-only lifestyle: getting rid of credit cards and using only the cash in your wallet to make purchases. There’s a reason that the cash-only approach is so popular. If you stick to only cash, it’s virtually impossible to add to debt. But there are some drawbacks worth looking at before you jump on the cash-only lifestyle.

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    Managing Savings

    Taking a pure cash-only stance is difficult, if only because saving up a lot of cash on your own is impractical. Even if you have a safe place to store your cash, it won’t be insured, like it would be in a bank. You also won’t earn any interest on your savings — while we may be talking about pennies, it’s important to remember that pennies add up. So, for most people, a cash only lifestyle still involves a bank. It doesn’t necessarily involve a debit card, however. Because one of the benefits of cash only is the fact that making it harder to spend your own money usually translates to less spending, a debit card is out. If you’re planning to make a large purchase (and you’ve got the cash in the bank), checks are generally considered a good compromise.

    Using Checks

    You can use a credit card virtually anywhere, but it’s much harder to use a check. In some cases, it can actually be harder to use cash, rather than a credit card, as well. Want to rent a car? You’ll be asked for a credit card. Offering cash will only flummox the guy behind the counter. You’ll find yourself jumping through some hoops to spend your own money if you switch to using only cash.

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    There’s an argument that because it’s so much harder these days to use checks, you’ll be less inclined to go out and spend money. That may be true, but for some people, the ease of renting a car and making other payments is far more important than sticking to a cash only approach. That’s not a reproach on such individuals’ approaches to money: it’s a fact of doing business in the modern world. It’s a more than reasonable objection to the cash only system.

    Building Credit

    Credit reports are crucial for a lot more than getting a new credit card these days. Employers look at the credit reports of prospective employees, landlords look at the credit reports of prospective tenants and even utility companies look at credit reports before deciding to connect someone’s electricity. And that’s assuming that you don’t want to buy a house — while mortgage may not be a bad kind of debt, it’s hard to get one with no credit history whatsoever. If you go cash only and eliminate your credit cards, it’s much harder to build a solid credit history.

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    It’s not impossible: you can take out a loan that you have the money for and pay it off quickly or take a similarly roundabout route. You can also point those individuals who would otherwise check your credit score to the FICO Expansion service — essentially a credit score for those individuals who use cash only. You can also use services like PRBC, which reports your bills that you pay on time (such as telephone) that aren’t reported on your credit report, to build up your credit. There are fees involved in using such services, however.

    A Credit-Based World

    The simple fact is that living a cash-only lifestyle these days is a rarity. Many companies just aren’t set up to help anyone planning to pay cash with the process. If you walk into a car dealership and try to pay cash for a new car, for instance, you’ll have a much harder time completing the transaction than if you finance it. It’s not because car dealers don’t want your money: it’s because that situation is so unusual that a dealership’s staff really doesn’t know how to handle it.

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    Sticking to cash for all your transactions can end up costing you more time than you might expect. If you feel that your time is more valuable than the money you can save by using only cash, that approach just may not work for you.

    Pros and Cons of Cash Only

    There are definitely plenty of drawbacks — as well as benefits — to living a cash-only lifestyle. But the thing about personal finances is that they’re personal. Using only cash works really well for a lot of people. But it doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. You may find that a complete conversion to cash only doesn’t work for you, but a modified approach — like limiting your eating out budget to the cash in your wallet — works out great. It is worth at least checking out the cash only approach and seeing if it can at least save you some credit card fees.

    If you have gone cash only, successful or not, please comment on your experiences. What worked? What didn’t? What tips can you offer to someone thinking about going cash only? I know what my experiences have been, but I’m always interested in seeing why someone else has an easier or harder time with relying more on cash and less on credit.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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