We now live in a world where we are going paperless with our money, cash is no longer a necessity, especially in cities like London. You can buy everything online, by card, phone and now even a watch. Gone are the days where there is a minimum or extra charge for card payment, unless in mini corner shops where I swear its not a necessity but just a way of getting extra cash out of you.
Its going so far I worry that soon items will have retina recognition where by the signals sent to the brain demonstrating you ‘like’ something automatically contacts amazon, deducts it from your account and delivers it to your door. This may sound very extra terrestrial but I feel the rate at which things are going, we will be there soon.
The problem with tapping your money away is that you have no real realisation of what your spending. A coffee here, a dress there, a direct debit for something you don’t use every month, a midnight impulse purchases every now and then and a bankrupting bar bill later can all spiral out of control.
When I wrote my blog on financial planning I had the anxiety inducing task of actually going through my account to see what I spent. My finances were in bad shape and I couldn’t understand why. In my mind I was careful with my spending and had no large expensive buys to show for the minus sign in my account. It was only then that I realised that I was indeed…. tapper happy.
I thought long and hard about how I had let this happen and the conclusion I came to was that I saw no consequence in spending money. My wages went in and I went on my, what I thought was careful, merry tapping way throughout the month. Coffee and a bit of cake came to £5 something, not a big spender, it was a treat, but what was £5 something anymore? I couldn’t see the money so therefore didn’t see the consequence of spending it. Maybe if I could actually see the money in my purse I would reconsider my purchase. Maybe I would just get the coffee if I could see the money leave my hand. It was worth a try at least.
Since my financial planning I knew what disposable income I had each month so I set myself a limit of £100 a week. This might sound quite ok but when your weekly travel card comes to £33 and then you add in food its actually very limited.
There were obviously some things I couldn’t pay for in cash. I’m pretty sure the gym, TV licence and credit card payments wouldn’t be too happy if I ceased them for a month and sent them some change by post instead, so these had to continue as they were.
First day I was positive, money in my purse and off to work I went, only to find that my tube station didn’t have a cash option to top up my oyster card so off to another bigger tube station I trot making me late for work.
I did feel a bit weird carrying around £100 in my purse. I actually weirdly felt more vulnerable to mugging but, let’s be fair, the modern day clever thief doesn’t show their face on CCTV, they just drain your account in less time than it takes to blink an eye so my money was probably safer in my shoulder bag.
Self service for card only payments was no longer an option and the cash ones were limited. It was like they were saying “we will let you pay in cash because we are nice but it’s weird so we are going the make this really difficult for you!” I was often offered the card machine before stating how I would like to pay and you could sometimes feel the cashier’s anxiety while you took those extra seconds to count out your change.
I had to think of my spending constantly and I needed to budget for social events in advance. The problem with London is that a night out doesn’t come on a budget, you’re either a tapper without consequence or you stay home. Luckily for me my cash month fell on my birthday and no lady should be made to pay for drinks on her birthday 😉
I did slip up a couple of times. Once when I got to the front of a long queue at the post office to find I was £2 short so on the card it went and the second was when my favourite tea company offered me a “ends at midnight” offer that I buckled to. My house mate decided to do this with me and a bit of moral support is always welcome but it did mean that I got the ‘disappointed face’ when my delivery arrived!
I made more of an effort to cook my food in advance to bring to work and invested in a cafetier for the office so that I could cut out on the coffee payments. I found myself becoming very thrifty. I would question each and every purchase. I didn’t buy a lot of the things I would have normally as I could see in front of me how much I actually had and therefore if I bought this I wouldn’t have money for that.
I did wonder whether this 4-Week-Challenge would lead me to have a complete online blow out come the first of the month but surprisingly I didn’t. Looking at my account for the first time in years with extra money still in it on payday was an incredible feeling. I took what I had left and put it in my 0.06p savings account with pride. I felt a sense of accomplishment and it actually wasn’t that hard. A bit annoyingly inconvenient but once I got used to it I was easily daily budgeting.
Would you pay £70 for a dress if you had to withdraw that money and hand it over? Would that sense of post purchase melt down hit you prior to you walking out the shop with the bag? Would it make you re-consider or would it just take the fun out of shopping all together?
Seeing extra cash in my account at the end of the month was a far better feeling than buying a dress. Of course I will still splurge on items occasionally but this month has made me reconsider, do I really need it? This was the reality check I needed and the reward at the end has given me incentive to continue, perhaps not all in cash but certainly the constant budgeting and thought into my purchases.
I also found out on my last week that there was a cash payment at my local tube station so that Monday morning trek was highly unnecessary! Oh well, you win some, you lose some!