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Paying Cash For Everything

I’ve heard a lot about the “cash method” as a way to decrease one’s spending. The concept is that you somehow become more conscious of your spending when you are paying cash for everything. Having to pull out a bill or use coins to make a purchase is supposed to “hurt” a little more than using plastic. Some studies show that those who use plastic spend more than those who use cash.


“Paper or Plastic”?

True, Dr. Plastic might spend a touch more than Dr. Paper. But is this enough reason to come up with a rule that says a person should use cash to lower their spending?

Is most of our spending taken up by what we spend day-to-day or is it because of the larger obligations which we transact online or by other digital means?

A healthcare professional is going to have the following expenses which would be a huge pain in the ass to pay for in cash:

  • medical license fees
  • board certification dues
  • transportation expenses
  • housing expenses
  • membership dues
  • travel/vacation expenses
  • cell/internet bills


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The majority of our expenses aren’t from eating out, buying clothes, buying trinkets at the thrift store, or spending on groceries.

Unless you want to switch everything over to cash, why would you go through the hassle of now making trips to the ATM, storing your bills and change and keeping manual track of your expenses? I’ve done this now for a month and it’s a pain in the ass.


My Own Cash Experiment

I have been using a cash method for the past month and I have not spent any less money than when I use my card. I take out around €600 when I go to the ATM and I have the cash I need to spend. If I needed more I would go back for more. And I just thought about this, but am I not using my plastic to get the cash in the first place?? Wtf.

I pay for everything in cash in Barcelona:

  • my gym membership
  • my cell phone
  • my groceries
  • stuff for the house
  • transportation


I know I’m not spending less because I keep track of my spending and have done so for years, down to the last penny using YNAB. My spending has been on par with my card wielding days in Portland.

The only reason that my overall budget is less burdened in Barcelona than in Portland is because things are cheaper here. Groceries are cheaper, coffee is cheaper, and so is beer. My gym membership costs less than it did in the US and I can get much more data on my phone for less.

So, this brings another experiment to completion for me. If you have had other results please share it below. I think if you keep a budget and practice sticking to your budget you’ll be far more successful than just trying to pay cash for everything – well, not everything, because you can’t pay for your mortgage with cash.

One reply on “Paying Cash For Everything”

I totally agree with you on these experimental findings! I hate using cash and don’t find I spend any less money than with credit cards. I don’t like carrying much cash and I hate dealing with coins as change. I like having the detailed credit card statements and I like airmile points.

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