Girl with blue wallet full of money

The 7-Day All-Cash Challenge

This morning while waiting for my gas tank to fill up, I put the time to good use. I read all the hazard warnings on the gasoline pump equipment. I couldnt help but think how much better off we might be if there were similar warning signs posted in stores, restaurants, and websites warning of the hazards of plastic.

ATM, debit, and credit cards can be every bit as hazardous to our financial health as fumes and improper handling of gasoline fuel can be to ones physical health.

Girl with blue wallet full of money

Plastic addiction

ATM, debit, and credit cards can be every bit as hazardous to our financial health as fumes and improper handling of gasoline fuel can be to ones physical health.

The vicious cycle of plastic-induced debt begins subtly. Before you know it, youre knee-deep in the accumulation of things, all the while losing something precious called financial freedom.

The cure

There is a cure for the addiction to plastic. Put yourself on a cash diet. Oh, I know that sounds so old-fashioned. It’s so much more convenient to pay with plastic. Some believe carrying cash is simply not safe, an excuse that has put and keeps lots of my dear readers in financial bondage.

The challenge

Heres my challenge: No plastic whatsoever for the next seven days. Of course you shouldnt send cash through the mail if that is the method by which you pay bills. But Im talking about day to day living. Gas in the car, coffee in a shop shop; fast food, restaurant food, diners, drive-thrus, and dives!

Can you do it? Of course you can. I have no doubt whatsoever that in the absence of plastic your life would go on. Your family would not starve and you would become very creative, indeed.

Not convenient?

I know what youre thinking. Thats too inconvenient—and thats the point! If spending money were not so convenient maybe all of us would keep more of it.

Experts tell us based on credible studies and statistics that when we shop and live dependent on electronic payments for everything from groceries to gas to the daily coffee—and on and on and on—we simply spend more. Its the convenience factor. Its mindless to just swipe the plastic for everything without engaging and focusing on the true cost of things. And paying only the minimum monthly payment when the credit card statement is due? We’ve been programmed to believe that’s our right, and an easy way to live way beyond our means.

Take the challenge

Are you ready to take the challenge? Great. Find a safe place for your plastic and just get it out of reach. Hand it over to a trusted friend or relative. Or freeze all of it in a big block of ice. Nothing will be harmed, your cards will be safe so no worries there.

As you are able to pry yourself from plastic you will experience a new sense of well-being and freedom. Its called living within your means, paying as you go, spending only what you have, delayed gratification.

Feeling of freedom

Theres something remarkable about living with cash. Suddenly, youre really paying for things—not creating a promise to pay when the bill arrives.

You are touching and feeling the sensation of that thing known as money. Youll intuitively start paying attention to how much that fast-food lunch costs because youll be handing over currency, not merely swiping plastic while you enjoy the music or exchange pleasantries with the guy in line behind you.

As you cruise the supermarket, the actual prices of things will begin to capture your attention. Youll compare the prices and notice which items are on sale. Youll keep checking your pocket to make sure you have enough to pay as your cart fills up.

Plastic blinders

Plastic has a way of shielding us from what things really cost. That might feel good at the time, but its like living in a fantasy world. Paying with cash clears away all the fog and keeps it real.

Just 7 days

So here’s the deal: Just seven days, one week starting tomorrow morning. That gives you time to get the cash you need to get through one with no plastic purchases at all. Are you with me?

Let’s go!

More from Everyday Cheapskate

child counting managing money
papers tax records im a big mess
A person wearing a neck tie
family using mobile devices
closeup rear view of frustrated woman scratching chalkboard
high gas price, arm and leg

Please keep your comments positive, encouraging, helpful, brief,

and on-topic in keeping with EC Posting Guidelines

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
13 replies
  1. Gladys says:

    I read this article in the newspaper here in Canada. This is a great challenge and had only one drive through refuse my cash because of Covid. I’m planning on passing this article on to my adult children… it will be an eye opener for them for sure. Thank you.

  2. Ginger says:

    This method really works! It’s how my husband and I saved a nice nest egg for retirement. You will be amazed at how little you spend when paying with cash.

  3. teresa says:

    here’s my dilemma – after I pay my bills I do not have cash left over – so i have to use my credit cards. i don’t want to and i’m just on this merry go round.

  4. Connie says:

    This may have made sense before COVID, but now many businesses are requiring plastic, only. Maybe this is one of your old posts.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Connie … Not an old post. I’m aware that some businesses have chosen to control their customers in this way. My challenge stands. It’s not easy to go on a cash diet!

  5. nonsibicunctis says:

    This is great advice with which I agree totally.

    I have one concern that, strictly speaking, is not about the financial benefit of what’s proposed but is about its release in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The virus spreads through airborne transmission and contact with minute drops of expelled air either directly coming in contact with another person or being deposited on some surface that another person then touches. Most would be aware of that and it is one of the reasons that health experts recommend the wearing of masks.

    It seems sensible, therefore to encourage clients to shop using cards rather than cash, precisely because this can be a non-contact transaction whereas with cash, both the buyer and seller have to handle the money. With a card it is possible to simply tap or in some cases, just show the card to a machine.

    Perhaps wait until the Pandemic is contained before taking this first step?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’ll have to disagree with you on this. Have you stood in the produce department of a supermarket recently? People wearing masks are touching all the produce. Just imagine how many hands touched those apples, grapes, potatoes, onions and what have you? How many hands touched those dairy items, bakery goods, and on and on. But suddenly at the checkout it is not safe? Cash has never been considered sterile or even that clean. We’ve always known to wash our hands after touching money, haven’t we?

  6. Linda Pries says:

    I don’t consider my debit card in the same way as a credit card. I know what is in my bank account and I do not have overdraft protection so if I choose to use a debit card to pay for gas rather than to go inside to pay, then pump the gas and go back inside, wait in line again to get change and then go back to my car I will do so. Especially when it is winter and the lot is slippery. I rarely ever go through fast food and even less often eat in a restaurant.

      • Mary Hunt says:

        Yes, there are. And in response, I give a cordial “sorry but I can’t.” On a side note, through this entire year I have never had a merchant refuse my cash, even when their sign [rudely] stated, credit and debit cards only for payment.

  7. Mimi Smol says:

    I totally agree with this but there is just one snag. We are being moved into a digital cashless society and I am encountering more and more places that will not take my cash but require plastic. So, even though I don’t want to use cards I’m being forced into it. Even with debit cards you must be diligent so as not to miscalculate what you actually have as opposed to what you believe you have in your account.

    • cheryl says:

      Hi Mimi,

      I have noticed that as well. Also a lot of other places state that plastic is preferred. I use cash anyway and the ones that require credit only i quit going to if at all possible. I know my local Krogers tried to not give back change except in the form of a store card for a small time…that experiement failed, so now they are back to giving change and accepting all forms of payment. Hang in there, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy! Think about playing piano, dieting, learning a new language…practice until it becomes a habit….YOU CAN DO IT!!!!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *