Are you the type of person who carries a wallet full of cash, or the type of person that pays for everything using a credit or debit card, even if it means purchasing something for just a few dollars? Well, I can tell you that my wife and I use our credit or debit card for everything. I’ve put less than 50 cents on my debit card in the past and honestly, I felt a little bit silly about it. I never have coins or cash. I have to visit a local ATM when I know cash is required. Sometimes, I don’t know in advance and it can become an inconvenience.
There are a few times in particular I think I really need to carry some cash:
Emergencies - I think it always make sense to have $20 on hand in case you need it for an emergency situation and there isn’t anyway to pay with a credit card. I think this can be especially important when traveling. How much should you carry? Large bills can be dangerous and you even could lose them if you’re accident prone. I think $20 or perhaps two $20 bills is a good amount to have in case you need it.
Snacks and drinks - I visit Starbucks several times each week (with budgeted money of course) and pay a few dollars for a tasty cup of coffee. (I’m drinking one at Starbucks as I write this post). While it might be okay to pay a few dollars on my debit card as probably most people do, it can be a hassle to track all that spending. I could easily take out the money for such expenses at an ATM each month. Perhaps this would be easier for budgeting purposes too!
Giving - I work several days out of the week downtown and sometimes come across a homeless person in need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “sorry, I can’t help you today” because I don’t have any cash. This is disheartening to me as in some situations I really felt like I needed to help the person.
Carrying cash isn’t a big deal. It’s really a behavioral change for me in that I would need to plan to go to the ATM at the beginning of each month to withdrawal the cash. I still haven’t done this yet for some reason, but the reasons to do so seem convincing to me now more than ever.
Do you carry cash or pay with credit or debt? When do you think you need to carry cash? I’m interested to know your thoughts in the comments.