When we decided to live this summer on a cash budget, I was nervous. Not only did I know it would be a challenge, but I feared that we would feel deprived and miserable. Almost three weeks into the experiment, that’s not the case at all. In fact, there have been several unexpected benefits.
After almost 6 months of minimal success with dieting and exercising, I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover I’ve lost three pounds. This could be due to any number of recent lifestyle changes, including my limited bread and pasta consumption over the past 3 weeks. But I also suspect our new lifestyle has a lot to do with it. We’re choosing frugal, more active fun instead of pricier sedentary activities, and we’ve cut out restaurant meals. We didn’t eat out more than once a week before, but apparently that was enough to slow my weight loss down.
Since my husband and I are facing this challenge as a team, it’s definitely bringing us closer together. It’s been fun discovering frugal alternatives to our more expensive date nights, and we’re working together to solve problems and overcome challenges.
We’ve been living frugally for almost two years, but this is extreme even for us. Spending the evening playing a board game instead of going out to dinner is a great way to reconnect, and it really feels like we’re breaking out of some of our old routines and enjoying a lot of new activities. Fun!
Less budget stress
One of the worst feelings is checking the budget Monday morning after a weekend of overspending. Since we paid off our credit card debt and increased our income a little, we started getting more and more complacent about our frugality. It happens.
This cash only experiment has helped us get back on track. Now when I look at the budget Monday morning, I know exactly what we spent Friday through Sunday. The weekends no longer derail us, because we only have so much in our pockets to spend.
If nothing else, living on cash only really has led to more mindful spending. It’s not necessarily because I put a premium on cash, but because when you only have so much in your pocket, you’re forced to avoid spending more than that. Knowing exactly where we stand at the end of the weekend is incredibly freeing.
I miss the occasional lunch out at work. Last Friday the entire office left for lunch at my favorite inexpensive restaurant. Because of my diet and my budget, I ate my boring salad. That was the first and only time I felt a little deprived on cash only.
The biggest downside? Oh my goodness, I hate dealing with cash. I hate having change everywhere. I hate that I have to stop and get myself organized after the cashier hands me my change. I really hate that I have to fish around in my wallet for the correct amount when I pay for things. It seems to hold everything up, and it’s just such a hassle. Holding on to receipts and manually splitting transactions on Mint to track our spending is inconvenient and confusing at times. What do you do, though? It seems a small price to pay considering all the benefits so far.