When To Use Cash Instead Of Credit

I know. It’s 2019. We have contactless cards, peer-to-peer mobile payment systems, and services that will offer you an instalment loan for a pair of pants. But I’m not here to talk about any of those newfangled schemes. No, no. I’m here to talk about cash.

Cash gets a bad rap these days. In fact, most of the young’uns go without it. But despite the naysayers, I come in humble defence of cold, hard cash. I always have at least a few dollars in my wallet, which is as practical as it is a frequent conversation piece among my card-loving friends.

Cash comes in handy more often than you might think.

Aside from budgeting methods (and I’ll get to that later this week), cash can get you out of a variety of 20th century situations. Cash is useful to have for emergencies, like an unanticipated cab ride home. It’s helpful at establishments – usually small local businesses, mind you – that require a minimum purchase to use plastic.

And, cash is useful to help you curb your spending. Swiping is easy! It takes away the pain of actually paying for something by delaying the actual transaction of your money. Pulling out cash somewhere vaguely close to the correct amount you plan to spend can be a reality check for your budget. Or, knowing you have a set amount of money in your wallet can curb spending before you even start.

In honour of the near-endless uses of cash money, I present a list of places and situations in which you might find yourself wishing for a few dollar bills:

  • Garage sales. Don’t be that person trying to use plastic unless that yard sale explicitly advertises accepting Paypal or other payment methods.

  • Overdue library books. You’re really going to make your library pay a card fee for your $2 fine?

  • Paying back friends or family for a small purchase, like a meal you shared. Sure, you could use bank transfer, or agree to pick up the next tab. But sometimes it feels good to simply hand someone the money you owe them and call it a day. This works especially well for friends or family who are notorious for not accepting your money.

  • Laundromats. Always bring change with you – because someone’s always using the two washing machines that have card readers.

  • The ice cream truck. Nothing takes the joy out of spontaneous ice cream splurges like waiting to enter your PIN while your cone melts on your hand.

  • Kids’ allowances. Having them handle physical cash can help young people learn about money and maths concepts.

  • That one busker you really like. Kick it old school and drop them a dollar. Then look them up on SoundCloud.

  • A poker game. Nothing takes the buzz out of a good hand like “OK, now everybody Paypal Mike $30.”

  • The old soda machine at the local park. It does not have a card reader. You are thirsty. You can guess how this ends.

  • Birthday cards. You know you love getting a card with $10 or $20 in it! Do unto others!

  • The tooth fairy. What’s your kid going to do with a Paypal?

  • Late-night craving trips. Local stores often have a card-use minimum, which isn’t a big deal if you’re buying a few items. But if you’re wandering in later at night, maybe you should stick to the cash in your pocket.

  • The collection basket at church. Unless you’re that person who makes their offering by check, the true throwback.

  • Roadside fruit stands. You’ll be lucky if they have Wi-Fi service on that country road to run a Paypal payment. Just give them cash.

A little cash can go a long way.


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