I Dumped the Debit Card and Spent Only Cash for One Week. It Was Harder Than You Think.
Like any self-respecting 20-something, I don’t use cash. I rely on my phone for everything – from communication to payments. So when my boss challenged me to live a week without using my debit card and pay only in cash, my heart sank. Nevertheless, I decided to take on the challenge and see what it was really like to live in a cash-dominant world.
A Massive Palaver
On the first day of my money-boomer experiment, I realized how inconvenient it was to rely solely on cash. I rushed out of the house in the morning and then had to turn back because I had forgotten to grab my debit card. After retrieving it, I had to search for an ATM, only to realize that I didn’t know where the nearest one was. Frustrated, I turned to Google for help and ended up making a detour to Tesco. Eventually, I managed to withdraw some cash and got on with my day, but the morning chaos left me wondering: how bad can it be?
Moral Dilemmas and Limitations
My experiment hit another roadblock when I arrived at my train station. I needed to pay for an Oyster card to cover my train journey, but was torn between using cash or card for this transaction. A quick online search informed me that using cash for buses and trains was often more expensive, and no cash payments were accepted on buses. So, I resorted to an old Oyster card I found in my drawer, only to discover that I had a debt of £8.90 on it. I paid off the debt, topped up the card, and finally boarded the train. It was not only time-consuming, but also confusing to navigate the intricacies of cash-only payments.
The End of Cash
As someone who rarely used cash, the idea of a cashless society never bothered me. I thought it was convenient and efficient, saving time and hassle. However, my week-long experiment made me realize the frustrations and limitations of relying solely on cash. With 54 bank branches closing every month, a decline in free-to-use ATMs, and many small businesses refusing to accept cash at all, the demise of cash seems inevitable.
- 54 bank branches are closing every month.
- Free-to-use ATMs have declined by almost a quarter since 2018.
- More than one in 20 small businesses are not accepting cash at all.
The Hassle and Inefficiency of Cash
During my week without a debit card, I encountered numerous inconveniences and limitations. Many pubs and coffee shops I visited didn’t accept cash, citing efficiency and security as reasons. The absence of cash transactions allowed them to process payments quicker and reduced the risk of theft. This meant I had to search for places that still accepted cash or carry a large amount of cash with me.
Moreover, certain activities became more cumbersome and less tempting due to the hassle of using cash. For instance, booking a swimming session required an in-person visit to pay in cash, which I couldn’t be bothered to do. Waiting in lines for staffed tills at supermarkets, fumbling for correct change, and limited options for splitting bills with friends were all frustrating experiences that made me appreciate the convenience of digital payments.
Key Takeaway: Cash is Inconvenient but Not Without Upsides
Although my cash-only week was challenging, it shed light on the downsides of relying solely on cash. The inconvenience, limitations, and inefficiency of cash transactions outweigh the benefits for many people. However, it’s worth noting that cash is not without its upsides. It forces you to be mindful of your spending, and relying on cash can provide a sense of tangibility and control over your finances. Nevertheless, the trend towards a cashless society seems unstoppable.
Living a week without a debit card and relying only on cash was an eye-opening experience. It revealed the frustrations and limitations of cash transactions in a world that is rapidly becoming digital. While cash may still have its merits, the convenience and efficiency of digital payments have undoubtedly transformed the way we handle money. As we move closer to a cashless society, it’s important to consider the needs of all individuals, especially the elderly and disabled who may struggle with the transition.