budget

The One-Month Cash Challenge

5 Minute Read

Another month, another batch of bills in your mailbox.

Again. Just like last month. And the month before that. And the month before that.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly where your money is going each month instead of wondering where it all went? What if there was a way to know exactly how much you could spend? And when the funds ran out, that was it—the well was dry and you couldn’t possibly overspend.

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Are you up for the cash challenge in 2018?

The One-Month Cash Challenge

Maybe you like the idea of using cash in theory. But how does someone realistically use cash nowadays? This isn’t 1999, after all. You really don’t want to deal with the headache of writing and mailing checks again or paying inside the gas station.

But the good news is, you don’t have to. We’re not suggesting you eliminate modern-day conveniences like automatic bill payments or swiping your debit card at the gas pump. Don’t worry, we’d never send you back to the Dark Ages.

The Cash Challenge Is Easier Than You Think

Our free budgeting app EveryDollar will let you create your first budget in as little as 10 minutes. Simply make your budget for the month (before the month begins) and pick some categories to pay for only with cash. Write down the total amount of cash you’ll need. Then divvy up your money into a cash envelope system and start using it! It’s that easy!

Stumped on what categories to use it for? Try the ones you tend to overspend on. Here’s some ideas:

  • Grocery Money. Stock your fridge and pantry, but keep the amount budgeted for restaurants separate.
  • Restaurant Money. Include enough for tip and tax, too.
  • Household Goods Money. Think shampoo, toilet paper, razors, diapers, etc.
  • Entertainment Money. Enjoy movies, bowling, live concerts or kids’ museums.
  • Clothing Money. Hello, post-holiday sales.
  • Fun Money. This is your stash. Use it for any self-indulgence you want.

We like using cash because it puts you back in control of your money. You’ll no longer be wondering how much you have left to spend on your date night or coffee run. If there’s still money in the envelope (or clip system in your wallet), you’re good to go. If it’s getting low, you may want to scale back or return that scarf you bought on an impulse.

Challenge yourself to try out paying for cash with the envelope system for just a month. Spending less than you make can lead to better money habits that last the whole year and on! Discover how it feels to pay for something and not worry about what’s in your account.

Cash Is King

Still not convinced? Here are even more reasons why cash is king!

What you have is what you get.

Unlike with credit cards, your cash envelopes (thankfully) can’t deliver an endless stream of purchasing power. If you don’t spend wisely, you won’t spend at all. Habits change in a hurry the first time you empty your restaurant envelope a week before your next paycheck. Seven days of tuna sandwiches may be the best overdraft protection there is.

You spend less when you use cash.

Plastic doesn’t hurt like cash. Once you’ve spent some quality time with Benjamin Franklin, you’ll think twice before sending him to a cold, hard cash-register coffin. It activates the pain sensors in the brain. According to a study on spending behavior, swiping a card actually encourages you to spend more.(1) But when you use cash, you’ll naturally find yourself shopping around, looking for deals, and spending less.

Cash can get you a deal.

There’s no better bargaining tactic than a pocketful of cash. There’s just something about it that drives salesmen wild. Try spreading the scent of cash around the next time you’re hunting for a car. Fun will be sure to follow.

Your identity is safe.

Sick of database breaches? So are we! Cash won’t reveal your name, address or Social Security number. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Cash is convenient.

From your daughter’s piano teacher to the oh-so-cute kids fundraising in front of the grocery store, there are just some times in life when cash is still the easiest way to pay.

Purchases become a blessing, not a curse.

When you avoid debt, something incredible happens: Your brand-new transmission, reupholstered reading chair, and even your favorite cereal won’t accrue interest—ever.

Are You Ready to Take the Cash Challenge?

In order to fully enjoy the benefits of using cash, all you have to do is swing by the bank and actually take some out. Now you’re ready to budget well, spend less, and bargain more.

When you cash-flow your expenses, you experience the fringe benefits of using cash you didn’t even know you were missing! We doubt you’ll ever want to go back. Give it a try next month to see for yourself!

Budgeting with cash is only the beginning! Make 2018 the year you take control of your money and stop overspending for good. Financial Peace University, Dave’s nine-week course, can help you reach your money goals in the new year!

Want even more challenges? Sign up for our NEW Baby Steps Boot Camp email series and take your money goals to a whole new level!

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