I am very picky when it comes to my checkbook, and knowing that it isn't balanced makes me crazy. I like to know how much money we have down to the penny. It gives me a sense of security to stay on top of our finances. Keeping things balanced is usually pretty easy, but I have gotten off track a time or two. To combat this, my husband and I have a cash only week every six months. Here is how the cash only week works, and how it benefits us.
How it works
To prepare for cash only week, I make sure all of our bills are paid, our truck has a full tank of gas, and we have enough food for the week. Anything we need is taken care of by Sunday when I withdraw $100 from the ATM for the week, and put the debit cards away. Over the following seven days anything we need or want comes from that $100. We do not use out debit cards unless it's an absolute emergency.
It helps balance the checkbook
I'm very vigilant when it comes to our checkbook, but even I can miss things. Not using our debit cards during a cash only week allows all (or most) outstanding charges to clear the bank. At the end of the week, I can then compare my calculations with the bank totals and correct any errors. Most of the time my numbers match the bank's, but there have been times when I was off. Once I missed a $60 ATM withdraw that was found after a cash only week.
Shows us where our money is going
My husband and I spend more wisely when we only have cash to spend because there seems to be some disconnect between swiping a plastic card and spending real money. During our first cash only week, we learned we were spending about $50 week just stopping at convenience stores for drinks and snacks. Identifying the problem areas will allow us to tweak our spending habits and save money throughout the year.
We are preparing for our next cash only week, which will happen during the first week of June. I have a feeling we are going to need this one because we just bought a home. It will be interesting to see if I have managed to stay on top of everything, or if something has slipped by me.
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