Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I Have Learned About Using Debit Cards

This year we have dubbed the year to "make the rubber hit the road" when it comes to our finances. We have prayed, sought guidance, found accountability partners and came up with a realistic budget.

With all those wonderful steps being taken, I have made one mistake - using my debit card as cash.

Need some groceries? Whip out the debit card. Gas? Swipe the debit card. There have got to be funds in there. I will write the balance in the checkbook later. Not to worry!

"Honey, can you stop by the store for a few things on the way home? Just use the debit card." Need a receipt? No way! I'll just look it up later!

At the end of the month (thank God nothing ever bounced!) I would wonder why we seemed over budget or why there wasn't more money or where all the money went. I then got the brilliant, not so brilliant idea to get online and total up our "budget" grocery purchases. We were way over in the food category!

While there were no lasting scars, I did learn a valuable lesson about myself: Debit cards are just as addicting and dangerous and innocent as credit cards.

When you have a certain amount of cash in your hands, you know just how much you have to spend. When it's gone, it's gone...

The month of January we decided to live on a totally cash only basis (with the exception of gasoline so we don't have to get the kids out in the cold). It's been trying! I have had to wait for Andy to get home to hand him grocery money. I have walked the stores with my little handy dandy calculator (I'm not going to be at the cash register without the proper amount of money!). To be honest, it was a little embarrassing when I felt people watching me or getting impatient with me for taking so long in front of the juice but in the end I felt free. I felt like I had done the best I could with what we had and I was happy with myself.

I just knew I would feel restricted and unfulfilled living on a budget. How wrong I was! It's amazing how free it feels to live on a budget and stick to it. There are no feelings of lacking whatsoever. What replaced those feelings of restriction were feelings of blessings. I feel blessed to have the grocery money we have and I love that I am trying my best to steward it the best way I can!

How about you? Do you have problems with temptation and using debit cards?

*This post is linked to Frugal Friday.*


Courtney said...

I NEVER carry cash. I am an avid debit card user. I completely agree with you though. Your point is one of the ones that Dave Ramsey also made. Out here in the sticks, however, ATM machines are few and far between. I know it's hard to imagine, but I think there is only one within a 30 mile radius of my home. Therefore, we use debit. :(

Debra said...

I agree! We take out cash for groceries when my hubby gets paid and that's what we have for 2 weeks. I hold on to the money and if he picks something up on the way home (rare)I will pay him back from that envelope or he will just absorb the cost (from his 'allowance' which we each get on Fridays). Using cash involves so much less paperwork. I can just toss those reciepts - I already know I wrote a check for the grocery money so it's documented - any leftover stays in envelope for the next week.

Anytime I have not had a chance to go to the bank and use the debit card we go over our budget. Everytime.

Using cash is very freeing. Oh, I also have my calculator out at the store!!

Julie Coney said...

The best part of using cash for me is the fact that the cash sent to other parts of the budget stays where it is put!!... When it all comes out of the account, there is no accidental spending of the car repair money, on an impromptu dinner out, just because the money is "there" :)

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