Cash seems such an old-fashioned idea these days. Yet financial gurus advise us to spend cash only. I was a big fan of the cashless lifestyle, until I decided to try a weekly cash budget just for fun. I was amazed at the result.
Why a weekly cash budget works
1. You can feel cash
Using cash engages four of your five senses and thus fully engages the brain. You see the notes and coins, touch them, you hear the rustle of the notes, and can even smell them. The strong impressions of the combined four senses will send powerful signals to you about how much you’re really spending.
2. Cash is finite
When you charge your purchases to a card, the actual amount doesn’t really register. When you use cash, it’s painful to see how empty your wallet looks after you’ve pulled a wad of notes out to pay for your purchase. That pain will help you avoid expensive purchases. Also, towards the end of the week, your wallet is going to be rather empty. You’ll have no choice but to walk away from many temptations.
3. Using cash makes you feel rich
This alone is a wonderful reason to spend only cash. Signing a $100 purchase to a card is no big deal. Pulling out two crisp $50 notes and placing them on the cashier’s counter is an entirely different feeling.
4. Budgeting is easy
If you have a big ticket item that you need to buy that week, you can put enough cash aside in a special section of your wallet. This makes it very clear how much you have left to spend on everything else. I found this way of budgeting so much simpler than the usual method of keeping track of all your expenses.
5. Your bank account grows
When I used to charge everything to my debit card, I had to check my bank balance towards the end of the month to make sure that there was enough left for the bills. With a weekly cash budget, my bank account stopped depleting so quickly, and even grew. It was so much easier to manage my money.
How to live on a weekly cash budget
Here’s what you need to do:
a. Decide on a budget for each week after accounting for bills.
b. Withdraw this amount on the first day of the week.
c. Set aside what you need to spend that week on big ticket items.
d. Spend the rest.
e. Live on love and fresh air when the cash runs out.
That last bit is crucial. The first few weeks I tried this, I had no more cash for the last day or two of the week. It was tempting to withdraw some more cash. Instead, I stayed home and learnt to cook simple dinners from whatever was left in the fridge, instead of going out to buy a meal. I learnt to enjoy free walks in the park instead of loitering in shopping malls where temptations to spend money were everywhere. My health and spirits improved tremendously.
After a few weeks of struggle, I reached the point where the cash not only lasted the week, but there was usually extra cash left when the next week began. You see, when you give your brain the instruction to make it through the week on a certain budget and show that you mean it, it will obediently adjust your thinking to help you achieve it.
A weekly cash budget can make you richer
So if you want to feel and be rich, start living on a weekly cash budget. Try it for a month and decide if you want to continue. I’ll bet whatever cash is left in my purse at the end of this week that you will want to!