Last updated on July 19th, 2022 at 03:55 pm
I never have cash.
Why just this morning I had to scrounge dimes and nickels from under the car floor mats in order to give my husband “Virgo Man” bus fare because I forgot to buy a commuter bus pass.
Cash is just not in our daily vocabulary anymore. Is there really enough to say about cash to even write a story about it?
Then my son “O Psychic One” asks me what is the deal with the gold standard. I respond, “Why do you ask?” He answers, “What the heck is the difference between paper dollars, metal coins, and gold bars? Isn’t it people who give both values? And therefore how is gold more valuable than dollars?”
I guess O Psychic One is never voting for Ron Paul.
Here’s the thing. I guess I can’t really think through what it means to use only use cash in society, and what it means to use only use something other than cash. Because whatever you’re using cash for now, if we go entirely cashless, you won’t be doing that anymore. It might be a good thing, or it might not be a good thing, but we’ll never know until we think about it, now will we? And only using credit cards for everything?
If you think about it:
1. Money fuels commerce.
As part of my financial mastery dream, I have already written about the problem of hauling around a wagonload of wheat to trade for cheese, meat, and toothpaste. It’s darned inconvenient, and commerce would be crippled if we were still doing that. So I have no complaint about money, per se, as a strategy.
2. Cash and credit–what I like to call the tactics of money–are all mixed up and upside down.
Banks have eaten away at our brains with the message that credit = trustworthiness. You can have absolutely nothing, and spend money you don’t have, but because you carry the Platinum American Express, you have been vetted by the financial industry, that paragon of virtue, and thus, you are Trustworthy.
Meanwhile, paying with cash telegraphs that you are a loser and probably a mule for a drug lord. People wash their hands after they do business with you.
Cash = bad. Plastic = good. Really?
3. Cash is more mindful than plastic, or even checks, for most people.
There was a case study that found college students would have no compunction about stealing their roommate’s soda out of the frig, but wouldn’t dream of stealing a dollar from under a sofa cushion. Have you ever had that feeling?
The only exception to the no-stealing-cash rule is when I find dollars in the washer. I wash the clothes, I get the money you so carelessly left in your jeans. That’s not stealing, that’s a tip.
But think about it. If you are in Tiffany & Company in New York and find yourself hopelessly in love with a diamond tennis bracelet, and you can only pay cash for it, you’re going to think about it. And actually, you probably do not have $19,000 cash in your pocket, unless you are purposely shopping for a diamond tennis bracelet.
For most people, impulse buying is sharply curtailed when cash is the only available medium. It probably never occurs to you to freeze your cash in a gallon milk jug to keep yourself from spending it, but I know at least three people who are doing that with their credit cards. That’s got to say something.
4. Cash is more local than plastic.
When I pay the dairy lady for my milk, I should pay cash. She takes plastic, but when I pay with plastic, some of that money goes to the Big Faceless Institutional Banks that process the transaction.
I think she should get all the money. She’ll use it to feed the cows, whereas the bank will use it to pay some joker a huge bonus so he won’t quit in a huff and go work for some other big bank. Oh, the loss.
As I said, I really don’t use cash. But that’s a shame, now that I’m thinking about it. After researching this topic, I wasn’t motivated enough to go to the bank and get some cash and use it. The whole world is set up to discourage people from using cash, I think it would be interesting, to go for a year using only cash.
Where do I go to plunk down dollar bills for the mortgage? Does the electric company even have an office anymore where I could pay cash? Most gas stations are just gas-dispensing ATMs, so you can hardly pay cash for gas these days.
Is my dream of financial mastery really ready to consider an experiment in using cash?
Jayne Speich is co-founder of Business Growth Advocate dedicated to the survival and growth of small businesses in the new era.
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