Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why I use cash

American Money

I carry a debit card and a rewards credit card in my wallet along with cash in a variety of denominations. Depending on where I intend on shopping determines when I spend cash. For example, when I go out to eat, I use cash, but visiting my hair stylist or the gas pump means I use the credit card. Cash gives me flexibility. If I am eating with someone and we want to split the bill, I can just pay my friend in cash while she charges the full bill to her card because she lacks the cash to pay her portion. I prefer to use cash at the thrift shop because my money is going for charity and I do not want to add fees to their bottom line. Each time a credit card is used, a transaction fee is charged to the vendor.

Cash makes it easy to bargain at garage sales. Typically, I have a $20 bill, a $10 bill, a $5 bill and 4-5 singles in my wallet. If I plan on hitting several garage sales, my wallet has a few more $5 bills and singles. If I ask the person whether in person at a garage sale or virtually via craigslist to knock off a few dollars or $10, it behooves me to have exact cash and not ask for change. Carrying cash and using it for purchases applies more universally than credit cards. Most farmer's markets run on cash and people casually selling things at work want cash, not plastic or a check. I also keep an extra $20 in my purse as a just-in-case resource. I have only used it once since I started carrying it almost two years ago.

While I use cash for about 25% of my transactions, I don't typically visit my credit union to withdraw money. I access cash using my debit card at an ATM. However, the ATM I visit only dispenses $20 bills. Therefore, I usually break any $20s I acquire when I spend it at restaurants and the thrift shop. As a result, I usually have more bills on hand at home that ensures I have the correct array of denominations in my wallet for whatever occasion I need them.

A recent example why having a range of cash denominations is helpful applies to the propane grill my dad received as a birthday gift. While my share of the grill itself was $40, the propane tank had to be purchased separately. Because I had $5 bill in my wallet, I could give my brother additional money to cover a share the unexpected expense. As I mentioned earlier, I have flexibility and control when I carry cash with me. Plus, keeping some cash on hand at home means I don't have to hit the ATM every week just get some cash to spend.

My question to you: How do you use cash?

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