financial literacy

Use Only Cash for Purchases This Weekend

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Alamy

Plan inexpensive ways to stick to your cash budget this weekend.

This is the Day 27 & challenge in the #MONEY30, a month-long bootcamp for personal finance novices. You can read more about the challenge here, and follow along with us on Twitter, Instagram, or email us at feedback@moneymail.com.

TIME BUDGET: 5 MINUTES


On Friday, we asked you to budget how much you’d need to spend in a weekend, withdraw that amount from the ATM, and rely just on cash for your purchases on Saturday and Sunday. Now, for this weekend, your challenge is to stick to that resolution and eschew plastic.

The benefits of going cash-only can be substantial. You’ll be acutely aware of your spending as money leaves your wallet, making you less likely to spend frivolously. It also places a hard limit on your expenditures: When you run out of cash, you’re done spending for the weekend. For plastic lovers, however, it might be daunting to avoid credit cards for the whole weekend, the time during which people on average spend the most money.

If you’re feeling nervous about ditching plastic, take heart in the knowledge that charging purchases isn’t necessary, especially among young people. A 2014 survey from Bankrate and Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that 63% of millennials don’t have a credit card—and the reason that many choose not to use one is because they’re wary of spending money they don’t have.

Here’s some advice on how to make it through the weekend with your credit card stowed safely away from your wallet:

  • Look up free activities in the area. One of the best ways to make sure you stick to a goal is to avoid temptation, so look into free or cheap ways to while away those weekend hours. If you know you’ll eventually get restless binge-watching Netflix shows at home, research a free art exhibit or concert you can check out in your neighborhood. Or even more basic: Plan an outing with a friend, like a walk in the park or a scenic bike ride.
  • Tell people about your resolution. If your friends know you’re only allowed to spend cash this weekend, you’ll be less likely to reach for your credit card when you exceed your budget for Sunday brunch. As we noted on Day 1 of the #MONEY30, studies show publicly declaring your intention to do something increases your chances of following through. Another option is to write down your resolution to depend just on cash this weekend and post it someplace where you’ll frequently be reminded of it.
  • Keep the big picture in mind. You’ll be done with the #MONEY30 challenge in just a few days, so if you need extra motivation, call to mind why you started this endeavor in the first place—whether you’re saving for a new car, trying to pay down student loans, or just hoping to develop better money management habits. Hopefully, the progress you’ve made overhauling your finances and setting cash aside for your next major purchase will encourage you to stick to your money-saving guns for the rest of the month (and beyond that, too).

Kerry Close

Have a question, comment, or suggestion? Email us at feedback@moneymail.com.

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