How To Prevent Plastic From Making You Paper Broke

Love, Self

What's not in your wallet these days? CASH! Here's what to do about it.

 A recent Washington Post article points out, "Roughly eight in ten people carry less than 50 dollars cash in their wallets on a regular basis, according to a new report from Bankrate.com." It then suggests we don't carry cash because we just don't have it, but I think it's more about our society's affinity for using plastic — whether it's a debit or credit card.

Face it, we've all been indoctrinated by Priceless, MasterCard and Never Stop Visa ads. Why bother with cash when life is easier using plastic?

Here are some of plastic's benefits:

  • Instant money
  • Instant gratification
  • Price? Who cares!

Wrong! Plastic lulls you into unconscious spending, feeling and thinking that money's not real — until you get that overdraft text or credit card statement. Then it becomes all too real and you're pushed into using plastic again to make ends meet.

So how do you get back to being aware that even a one dollar cup of coffee makes a difference? How do you get out of the plastic fog and into cold hard reality?

1. Slow down. The world will not end if you take your time before making that purchase — even one minute can make a difference. Slow down and give yourself a chance to be conscious and aware.

2. Remember your priorities. In the moment, you're always going to fall back on old habits. So going out to lunch becomes automatic unless you remember that ten dollars a day, five days a week, for 52 weeks is $2,600! Sounds like a great vacation — now that's a priority I can get behind.

3. Try something new. Use cash for a while. Give yourself a chance to feel the tangibility of money. Plastic makes it feel like an endless supply. With cash you see and feel that it runs out. Try cash for a day, week or month. How does it feel? More importantly, how does your spending change?

Money is one place you don't want to travel faster than the speed of light. Our world's lightning pace conspires against you and disconnects you from your financial reality. So slow it down, feel the connection and give yourself a chance to make good, solid money decisions.