Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cold HARD cash

It's now August 3rd, which means we have been on the cash system for only two days.

It's already a disaster. I seriously have no idea how people pay cash for things. (I get the whole you-only-buy-what-you-have-money-for concept, but I don't get the whole I-pay-for-everything-with-actual-cash-money practice.)

I went to Walmart on the 1st, and it's like my children knew checkout would be More Difficult and wanted to make it Even More So. Madeline started crying (maybe because of the creepy guy behind me, I can't be sure), so I had to get her out of the cart to hold her as I tried to put all my junk on the conveyor belt. She almost face-planted right on top of the chicken breasts more than once, I'm ashamed to say. (Also, the people in front of me had two transactions which took FOREVER since they paid for one of them with food stamps and the other with cash which was dug out from every pocket and crevice of a gigantic purse.) ANY-way, Coralie became jealous that I was holding Madeline and started crying to be held also. At this point, the creepy man behind me started making General Observations about parenting and my kids, which I tried to politely acknowledge while simultaneously blowing off. But back to Coralie: I tried to reason with her that I could not hold both of them, unload the cart, shove the price-match ad in front of the cashier, AND pay, but she didn't believe me. I had to set Madeline down in the cart and pick Coralie up as I sifted through my wads of cash to find the "Food/Household" category, counted out how much money I owed Walmart, took my change, and shoved it somewhere so I could grab my bags and go.

Still, I was proud that I spent about $20 less than I normally do. All in all, I was pretty confident the cash system would be good for our family.

But yesterday Mr. Cash-Loather was around for a few transactions.

The first one was at dinner last night. After paying the majority of the bill with a gift card, I realized I needed a $5 bill to pay the last few cents and to tip. Well, our "Dining Out/Entertainment" category did not have a $5 bill. So I looked to make change in another category. As I was doing so, Ryan started shifting uncomfortably in his seat and noticed a wait had formed in the lobby. Then my ears started burning, as they always do when I am feeling rushed with counting money. Well, after digging around in three categories and finally making change, I procured a $5 bill. But I couldn't remember where all the piles of money now laid out on the table had come from, so I had to COUNT EVERY CATEGORY still in my wallet to see which category was missing which amount.

Then we went to Walmart to pick up some coffee, a drink mix, and strawberries. I headed towards the beverage section and Ryan peeled off into the coffee aisle. I grabbed the (cheapest) mix and met Ryan on the way to the produce section. He saw me, felt convicted (I guess), and said he was going to put the coffee back since we already had some at home (he had been saving it for. . . I don't even know) that we should use before spending money on more.  I picked out three pounds of strawberries (price matched to Aldi's 0.88/lb) while Ryan disappeared somewhere else. He walked back towards me carrying four limes--LIMES!--with a look of "I dare you to question this purchase." I did, of course, and he said that he HATED the cash system but then marched his butt back to the lime tray to put two of them back. I won't bore you with the actual paying hiccup, but there was one, of course.

I guess what I've learned is that paying in cash does make us spend less but it also dramatically raises the stress level upon checking out. Ryan was so uncomfortable during all of the transactions that I would not have been surprised had he taken the wallet out of my hands, thrown it down on the ground, and whipped out his trusty debit card just to get out of the restaurant or store faster.

And yet! I find myself dreaming of all the extra cash we'll have at the end of the month, and how Ryan won't know that I squirreled it away until I have saved around $10k in six months, and how proud he will be. I can't wait.


  1. So proud of you Katie! It's hard. I try to have my grocery money in my pocket or in a seperate spot, so that I can grab it quickly when I'm doing a big shopping trip! And get small bills at the bank, it does make it easier! I've been will get easier with time! Keep with it! (And I'm the only one who is allowed to grocery shop, you'll find its easier and you'll spend less money. Clint buys limes too! haha.)

    ps. sorry if i post 3 of the same comments!

  2. I'm getting stressed out just listening to what you were going through, but that bright light at the end of the tunnel sounds pretty darn fantastic!

  3. "marched his butt" oh hilarious!! It will get easier. I remember getting so embarrassed at the checkout line because of trying to get the right amount of money. But you know what? Who cares. People can wait. You waited on the two in front of you, right? Just try not to rush and it will make things easier (I know, I know, I don't have two kids). How are you keeping your cash? Check out Dave Ramsey's site and he has an awesome accordian wallet that makes envelope systems SOOO much easier. I'll email you the link so this doesn't go to spam.