When is the last time you opened your wallet and paid for something in cash? If you’re anything like me, it’s been a while. With each passing year, Canada is moving closer to a cashless society. We’re increasingly choosing to pay for goods and services with our credit card, debit card and via mobile payment over cold, hard cash.
There are many benefits to a cashless society – better consumer protection, faster time at the checkout and a lighter wallet, but there’s one major downside: you have a greater chance of overspending. This makes perfect sense: when you pay with cash, once the cash is gone from your wallet, you’re out of money, but with a credit card you can spend up to your credit limit (sometimes even more).
Let’s take a look at some ways to still benefit from a cashless society while avoiding overspending.
Regularly Check Your Credit Card Statement
Get in the habit of regularly checking your credit card statement. With smartphones, this is easier than ever. Simply log into your bank’s phone app and see where your spending’s at. Rather than just randomly logging in, get in the habit of checking it the same time each week. For example, you might want to check your credit card balance every Sunday night at the beginning of the week. That way you’ll know how much money you have to spend for the week and be less likely to overspend.
Take a Cooling Off Period
It’s so easy to part with our cash these days. To “cash in” (pun intended) on this phenomenon, retailers make it easier than ever to spend with impulse purchases. An impulse purchase is a good or service you decide to purchase on a whim. For example, you could be at the grocery story check out with milk, egg and bread in hand, only to see a magazine at the checkout and decide to buy it, too.
But those small purchases can add up at the end of the month. If you find yourself making a lot of impulse purchases, you might consider taking a cooling off period. A cooling off period can last as little as a minute or two or as long as 24 or 48 hours. Take the time to think about a purchase before making it, instead of putting your spending on autopilot. Ask yourself whether you actually need the good or service you’re thinking of purchasing. If you’re unsure, chances are you don’t need it and you’re better off without spending the time.
Consider Using Your Debit Card
If you find that you regularly overspend on your credit card, you might consider using your debit card instead. Your debit card still offers the convenience of being cashless, but it also holds you more accountable for your spending. You’ll get a better idea about how much you’re spending, since once all the money is gone from your bank account, you won’t have any more money to spend. You can take it a step further by setting up sub-accounts for each spending category in your budget (groceries, gas, clothing, gym membership, etc.). That way you’re more likely to stay on budget.