For fun, my wife and I have been saving up our change for the last few months. We started in November and were using an empty igloo water jug. I had once been told that if you could fill one of those up with coins - you’d have about $1,500 in there.
Anyway, we wanted to buy a nice flat screen TV, so rather than withdrawing the money from our bank accounts or charging it, we decided to test the theory on saving our change. If anything, we thought it would be fun to see what happened. Since then, we never purposefully stuffed the water jug. We simply emptied our pockets at the end of each day and put whatever coins we had in there. It kind of became like a game - how much change did you have today, dear?
Last Saturday, after six months, I took the water jug to the coin counter. We had $503 in there. The TV we wanted was on sale for $513. Sold! Just to be funny, I took the roll of cash (that I had just received for the coins) with me to the store. I wanted to finish the coin saving game I guess. I went up the register and said, “Sir, I’m going to pay in cash.” I pulled out my gangster wad of money (mostly 10’s and 5’s) and laid it on the counter. The employee said, “Whoa, look at that roll of money!” I quickly explained the experiment my wife and I were conducting. He then said, “Nobody pays in cash anymore. I’m going to have to get a Manager to skim my drawer. Wow, this going to be the story of the day here.”
His comments really got me thinking. Is it that unheard of to pay for something in cash these days? It may be different from what other people think, but we don’t use our credit cards unless it is an emergency. And we spend within our limits. We enjoyed playing this game and saving towards a nice TV. But with the way this employee was acting over me paying in cash, you would have thought that people only use credit cards and spend what they don’t have in 2009. Whereas my feeling is that I’m not going to charge one stinking thing or create anymore debt than I absolutely have to.
I’m not making this a political discussion. Instead, I’m wondering about consumer spending habits. Am I really in the minority by having a good budget and by operating strictly in cash (or debt card)?