There are countless strategies to mitigate money stress, but the simplest of all may be adopting a cash lifestyle. This means you pay for everything you possibly can in cash. Cash works because it forces you to plan and get in control; you’re limited in purchasing power to just what’s in your wallet.
A cash lifestyle forces you to evaluate what you truly need. And, with practice and discipline, you can sleep better at night knowing where every dollar is going, reducing stress and anxiety.
Financial independence and managing a budget are valuable life skills; they take time to learn and even more time to become ingrained as habits. Aimlessly making purchases with credit cards, and being unprepared to handle the slew of interest and bank fees that accompany paying with plastic—well, it all adds up. However, withdrawing cash each week to pay in cash helps you stick to your plan for every expenditure. This is the core principle of a healthy budget.
Know you have a dinner to attend next week? Take out enough cash to cover it, and adjust your grocery budget accordingly. Thinking about the upcoming holidays? Set aside a small amount every week to pay for gifts when the time comes. Feel like you don’t have a handle on your grocery spending? By taking out cash and having a set amount to spend while shopping, you’re more apt to stick to your goals.
Goodbye, impulse purchases
Impulse purchases may be the toughest thing of all to overcome, and we’re all guilty. Walking into a store with a plan and leaving a couple hundred dollars poorer with a bunch of items you don’t truly need is easy to do. These random purchases and indulgences may seem innocent—a coffee here; a gift there; an extra meal out. But the fact is that in five Americans has spent a whopping $1,000 or more on an impulse buy! So you see, impulse spending can quickly add up and prevent you from getting ahead.
Losing your hard-earned dollars to impulse purchases means you’re less prepared to handle emergencies and the expenses that come along with the ups and downs of life. Two-thirds of Americans aren’t prepared to handle emergency expenses, like car repairs or emergency room bills. Living your life unequipped to handle what comes your way— well that’s a flood of stress right there.
Have the cash conversation
Finally, one of the best parts of a cash lifestyle is the conversation it generates among families and spouses. Many people avoid talking about money and budgets because it’s uncomfortable. But talking about it makes it real.
A cash lifestyle forces you to face reality, with your spouse or partner, with your family, and perhaps even with your friends. It’s a continual opportunity for education and evaluation: evaluating where you spend your money and if it meshes with your priorities? And for children, paying with cash teaches them basic financial skills and values.
Are you ready to take control of your finances and overcome stress? It’s easy and you can begin today. Head to the nearest ATM and withdraw cash for the next week. Then make a plan for how to spend it and stick to it. It’s that easy, and as the Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It!”