Debit card diet: 6 ways to live only on cash

By Jere Downs, Gannett

When I lost my debit card yesterday, I did not know it would result in going cash-only for about two weeks.

But that's what my bank told me this morning. Re-issue of a new card typically takes five days via the U.S. mail. In my case, I will not receive the new card until the end of next week, because I am moving and just changed my address with my bank.

I don't use credit cards, having given up that evil a few years ago.

As a result, I am going to be living strictly on cash for the next two work weeks.

My survival strategy follows.

1. Stash cash around. I will put $40 in the glove box and $20 in an envelope in my office desk drawer.

2. Emergency cash cache. Another $200 will be tucked away at home in the event of an emergency. I'll have cash if I need it, and a check is not accepted.

3. Visit my credit union to apply for their debit card. I already have the peace of mind that comes from of saving money where I can't immediately access it, in this case at my workplace credit union. There, I put funds aside for holiday spending and other designated spending accounts. It seems like a good idea to have a debit card with them, too, if I lose my main bank debit card again.

4. Plan my expenses. Losing the debit card means my spending becomes conscious. I am already looking ahead to the end of the week, when I will be moving into a new apartment. There will be extra expenses that day, perhaps for eating out, and tipping the movers. I will sit down and make a spending plan for the week.

5. Savor it. Paying only by cash will change the way I think about my finances. For one, I already relish the idea that all my spending will be private over the next two weeks.

6. Fine tune my frugal ways. I already take my lunch to work, combine trips to save gas, and comb thrift stores for clothing deals.

Going cash only will cut down on impulse spending. Counting out greenbacks will also make it harder to hand them over.


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