How Paying with Cash Keeps you from Over Spending

20 Jun How Paying with Cash Keeps you from Over Spending


Cash in HandIt’s tough to buy on impulse when you remove credit cards from the equation.

On Father’s Day we went to an event at our local airport called Wings and Wheels. It’s a classic car show combined with a classic plane show. Lots of cool things to look at and lots of fun for the kids. Ok, I’ll admit it was more of an event for me but I used the kids as an excuse to go there!

As we were walking around looking at the exhibits, the impulses started hitting me again. I wanted to take the kids on an airplane ride. I wanted to take them on a helicopter ride. I wanted to buy some brats and other junk food (even though we just ate before going to the show). I wanted to enter in a raffle to win a new Camaro SS. There were a lot of material things calling to my inner child. Inside, I was very close to getting red in the face and screaming, “I want it! I want it now!”

I thought to myself several times throughout the day how much money I would have spent there at the show if I still had a credit card. There would have been no hesitation. I would have walked out of that show at least a hundred dollars poorer after the plane ride, the chopper ride, and the food. I would have hit the ATM with the debit card and bought a few $20 raffle tickets for that Camaro, too.

Spending for the right reasons vs. inner, selfish reasons

I actually had to stop and think about what was going through my mind. As I analyzed my thoughts, I got a little upset with myself. Here I was, secretly wishing I had a credit card so I could buy some “fun” at the show. I was even having thoughts about how much the kids would want to ride in the plane, therefore I felt bad for not spending the money on plane rides. As it turns out neither kid really wanted to go for a plane ride. They just said it would be cool because I was excited about it and they didn’t want to disappoint me! It’s bad enough I used them as an excuse to even go to the show, let alone as rationalization for spending.

That realization got me thinking about how many times in the past have I used the kids to justify an expense. I now realize that deep down these spending incidents were really just satisfying my inner need to feel like a “good dad”. A good father doesn’t buy lots of stuff for his children. A good dad spends quality time with them and develops a lasting relationship based on love, not material things. When they get older they won’t remember if I bought them anything, but they will remember that I took them to the car & plane show.

Get rid of the credit cards & carry cash to reduce impulse spending

So looking back on the day as a whole, it’s a good thing I use cash now for most if my expenses. Not only do I use cash, but I plan ahead to be prepared for events like this. We decided in advance we wanted to have an expense-free fun day with the kids, so we limited the cash we carried to the show. Since I didn’t have a credit card, I couldn’t just go and buy whatever I wanted. I was forced to enjoy myself without spending money.

The result was success. We had fun, even though we didn’t spend a dime. My son was in awe at all the cool planes, my wife was in awe at the cool antique cars, and I was drooling over the muscle cars. But we resisted the urge to spend more money than we planned (zero) and we had a good time. And the even deeper victory is that I avoided using my kids as an excuse to spend money. And that makes me feel much better as a father than any amount of spending ever could have.