Saturday, September 27, 2008

Adventures with money

I stopped paying for things with "paper money" when I was 16 years old.

I had gotten my second job, (my first job was a month-long stint at one of the most popular restaurants in Boston! Not wise for a girl who, at the time, suffered from a non-diagnosed panic disorder!) set up a bank account, was finishing up high school and saving for my first car.

Bank of America (who was called Fleet Bank, at the time, and before that had been Bank of Boston) had given me this nifty little plastic card. It could be used like a credit card, which gave me quite a bit of financial freedom (read: getting my own internet provider since my parents still used AOL and had me set up with a "Kids Only" account), and, in the long run, it just turned out to be easier then cash. Less fiddling with money, less counting (I've always been awful at math), fewer chances of losing or misplacing cash. And I didn't even have to keep a ledger, since all of my purchases were conveniently kept track of for me, with Online Banking!

Needless to say, I haven't really carried cash since. The only time I've ever had it, was when I've paid for something with my debit card for a friend, and the friend has paid me back with cash. Otherwise, it's been plastic all the way.

Recently, in an effort to find more ways to get out of debt (since working my ass off doesn't seem to be doing anything), I typed "How to pay your bills when you can't afford to" into the Google search engine. I didn't find too much, but the one thing that I did find, and did seem interesting to me, said something like this:

"Always pay for things in cash. Paying with cash has a stronger psychological impact then paying with plastic, and you're more apt to spend less when you can see your hard-earned money leaving your hands."

I thought this made sense, and decided to give it a try today.

Today my friend Mary invited me to The Big E. I had nothing better to do, and although I really wanted to go, I turned her down three times, citing money as being the issue. I mean, the entire POINT of going to the Big E is to a) Spend way too much on admission b) Spend too much on random weird foods (fried Oreos, mini donuts, fried cheese curds, giant baked potatoes, cream puffs, fried dough, etc, etc, etc) and c) Buy lots of stuff you don't really need but are somehow compelled to buy anyway.

BUT, I did receive a disbursement check from my college today-- so I decided to throw caution to the wind. I'd take out $40 total-- $10 for admission, and $30 to spend-- and be careful with my purchases. (I also had $7 from earlier that I added to my total, so I had $37 to spend, really.)

So, we went to the Big E. I made very small, careful, and spaced-out & well thought-out purchases (a headband/wrap that was on clearance for $2, a $3 soda, a $3 hot dog (the cheapest food I could find!), a $10 necklace). I was doing fairly well, & I kept telling myself if I *didn't* spend the remainder of my money, that was okay, too-- since there was a shirt at Charlotte Russe I had been eyeing last week-- and I do still need work pants.

But there was one final purchase I had to make-- so I reached my hand into my pocket... and it was empty.

I have absolutely no idea where the money could have fallen. I don't even remember putting it in my pocket, but I'm sure I must have (I didn't bring my purse.) No one stopped to tell me, of course.

Mary bailed me out, and I was able to make that final purchase (a "Safe Sex" tie for Jay, which literally has a illustration of SAFES having SEX on it. I loved it.), but I'm still pretty bummed about my missing cash.

So, after EIGHT YEARS of NOT carrying cash and then THIS, I'm pretty sure I'll stick to plastic. Stronger psychological impact, my ASS.

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