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Archive for the ‘Cash-Only Diet’ Category

My cash-diet recently took a dive. It wasn’t necessarily my discipline that slacked, but a combination of vacation indulgences and realizing that I had almost racked up enough points on my credit card to buy something cool.

Soooo, when my brother and I took off on our NY to Seattle road trip last weekend, I left the debit card at home and charged all our expenses –– a number almost equivalent to three paychecks –– to my credit card to rack up as many points as possible.  Yeeeaaaaahhh. I think that’s the point of the cash-only — to avoid doing just that. I’m just sitting here waiting for my monthly statement so I can see the final “points” result.

See, this is how the CC companies rope you in. One little incentive and boom! They own you! What they don’t realize is that I was an accountant, meaning I paid a university a lot of money to teach me how to be anal about numbers. Therefore, while I charged everything for the past 9 days, I also wrote it all down, tracking the ending balance as I went.

And this is exactly what I plan on continuing to do — charging my expenses, while staying within my budget, until I reach my “points” goal! Take that CCs!!

I may have gone over my travel budget a little but during this trip… but it was well worth it. The trip was fab!!

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Less than an hour after I posted my week one update on the cash-only diet, I received an email from a friend with a 40% coupon code for a shoe manufacturer I’ve been known to give my money to. Talk about temptation! I didn’t really need shoes — I mean, no one needs them. But I did want to replace a pair of cheap shoes I purchased the year before that I wore a handful of times before they proved to be worth every penny I didn’t pay for them.

I browsed, clicked and played around in the chopping cart for a bit. But in the end, I resisted. I was pleased with myself for living up (down?) to my limitations the previous week, and I wanted to continue to stand proud. Plus, I was venturing off to New England that evening to visit a friend so I knew I would be indulging my shopping interests more than I ever do alone. (And I did!! I replaced my shoes with a much better pair that were on sale and have already stayed lasted longer than the last ones.)

I like to be able to allow myself to indulge when I visit K. Since we see each other only three or four times a year, it would be wrong to limit ourselves. After all, all we really ever spend money on is vodka and food — and this time was no different.

I finished off week two’s cash Monday afternoon during my weekly trip to TJ’s to stock up on lunch. I spend the full amount this time, but considering that included a weekend away, a magazine subscription and a pair of shoes, I’d say ‘not too shabby.’

And I’m on point for week three. This is continuing to be harder and easier than I expected. The hardest part is avoiding online purchases, which is how I’ve done most of my shopping since, well, since online shopping existed.

Now if I could only find the discipline to train for this damn Mud Run my butt might follow suit of my wallet!!

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Last week I was inspired by 20-Nothings, Jessie Rosen, to go on a diet: Suze Orman’s Cash-Only Diet, that is. And with one week down, I did pretty well. I have $20 still left in my wallet. Not sure if it was a result of the spending limitations, or, more likely, sheer exhaustion, but the past week was pretty tame on the social front. I spent more days/evenings at home than I have in a long time. I’m sure this helped the cause.

My first thought when realizing I had $20 left was “Oooo, an extra $20 for next week!” But I felt somewhat guilty thinking that way. Isn’t that cheating the program? I decided to take it a step further, and to save any money that is leftover at the end of each week. Therefore, this morning, I transferred $20 into my savings account and will withdraw $20 less when I hit up the ATM later. What I will do with the savings I am not sure. I did not embark on this project to save — not yet at least — but, rather, help pay down my debt. For now I will let the savings [slowly] accumulate and just enjoy looking at it — that will be my reward. And then if I decide I need something that doesn’t fit into my weekly budget, or fancy buying something for someone special in my life, I’ll have some extra cash, and not be tempted to touch the plastic.

Good plan? I think so.

I was surprised both at how easy and hard week one was.

It was easy because once limited to only the money that was physically in front of me, I realized how little I really needed. An avid debit card user, I was always aware of how much was in my checking account when I swiped, but actually having the money in front of you changes its value. You are forced to physically watch its depletion.

What was hard about it was changing my view of cash. I always saw cash as a perk for getting the little things on a daily basis — egg sandwiches, ice cream, a new bottle of shampoo (actually, I usually swipe at pharmacy stores). There were certain things that warranted cash, and that was all I would use it for. When seeing a wad of cash in my wallet last week, my initial thought was, “That’s a lot of egg bagel sandwiches,” not “Hmmm, I could buy a new pair of hiking sandals with this!” Who pairs for shoes with cash?

Hiking sandals. That brings me to the other hard part: Holding back.

The same as when I went on the Master Cleanse and every item of food looked delicious and left me pining, every piece of merchandise that passed my view enticed me. Coupons and newsletters flooded my inbox with discount yoga classes, sales on shoes and novel gift ideas. I know I would have fought the urge to buy many of these things no matter what, but there were some that I, if possible,  I wouldn’t have given a second thought to before typing in those magical numbers.

Some of the hardest things to pass on were:

  • $69 for one-month unlimited yoga, in today’s NY Groupon
  • $25 for $50 of apparel at the Gap (I hate the Gap since they began designing all their clothing to rip within weeks, but I still have weak moments and believe the Gap owes me after my years of loyalty.)
  • $90 all-terrain sandals that would be fantastic for my upcoming cross-country trip and any spontaneous warm-weather hiking we decide to embark on
  • $?? for some gift ideas that I have to wait on till my I have a fresh wade of cash in my pocket

On that note, week two starts today. I am a bit more nervous this week. I am going to Rhode Island to visit a friend this weekend and one of our favorite things to do together is eat… and one of my favorite places to shop and blow my budget is supermarkets. This is going to take constraint. But I have the willpower.

Here we go…

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