Real Men Pay With Cash

Real Men Pay With Cash


in Budget

Ladies I’m leaving you out of this discussion because I am not a woman and couldn’t even begin to profess that I know what a woman should or should not do. If you want add yourself to this discussion simply add a “Wo” and you’re done. Or you can just head on over to the Centsible Life for the day.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “I use my credit cards so I can earn a free off peak contiguous 48 states red eye companion fare on Ghetto Air every 3 years.” Then this is for you.

Top 10 Reasons that Real Men Pay with Cash

  1. Real men spend less when they pay with cash.
  2. Debit and credit cards are like the limp fish handshake of the purchasing world. “Yes I’d like to purchase this pack of chicklets and a package of swedish fish. $2.79 you say? Sure here’s my credit card so you can enjoy a nice $1.10 fee for me not being man enough to carry $3 cash.”
  3. You carry a roll of Benjamins around because you’re confident that if someone tries to mug you on the street you’ll throw a flying leg kick before parting with your hard earned cash. Calling your card company to cancel your card is like tattling on your big brother.
  4. You pay cash because you want it to hurt a little bit when you’re buying that new random orbit sander. “I do enjoy having you in my wallet, maybe that’s where you should stay.” A sheet of sandpaper might work just as well
  5. You cannot fold a credit card and still have it operate.
  6. No one has ever been declined at the Target checkout by paying for your Jonas Brothers lunchbox with cash.
  7. You can’t track your debit card transaction with Where’s George. Real men want to know that their dollar bill bought a Poison bandanna in Conshohocken and a piece of rhubarb pie in Duluth.
  8. You’ll never, ever be charged a late fee for purchasing a sofa sectional with cash.
  9. Paying with cash will hone your arithmetic skills to laser like focus. It will also impress the ladies that you can count.
  10. Paying with cash will prepare you for your trip to Japan where they don’t take kindly to those who pay with plastic and they almost certainly don’t take American Express.
  11. Real men enjoy taking up 7 minutes of the bank tellers time to count out your 6 fifties, 12 twenties, 3 tens, 5 fives and 14 ones. Yes I would like an envelope for that thank you very much.

(Photo courtesy John Althouse Cohen )

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Robert Muir 2010/04/08 at 8:18 am

I don’t know about miles, but my Costco Amex cards netted me over $1,300 from personal and business expenses last year. In other words, instead of paying banks money for the use of their plastic, Amex is paying me to use it.

Now, I know that it’s actually Dell, Amazon, etc. who are actually paying me, and by extension, their customers are paying higher prices for products due to the credit card transaction fees. I’m comfortable with that though.

By the way, ironically, I’m required to take the money from Amex in cash! (They send a coupon with the statement that I take in to Costco to pick up the cash.) I then put it in an envelope and use the cash to pay the house cleaner who comes in once a week.

I am sensitive to the transaction fees and try to carry enough cash around for small purchases.

FruGal 2010/04/08 at 8:28 am

I disagree. We get such good cashback on one of our cards we use it all the time. Using it to by flights the other week got us £40 cashback, for nothing. Credit cards are fine (and a useful budgeting tool) if you know how to use them and don’t carry forward a balance at the end of the month.

paul 2010/04/08 at 10:40 am

I think I inadvertently set off a debate I didn’t think through but since we are here I’ll weigh in. I agree that they can be fine if you know how to use them and I think that’s catch for the systemic debt issues that are seemingly everywhere today. People don’t know how to use them. Various statistics are often quoted that you will spend 12-20% more in a given month than if you paid cash, but of course I have no references to back that up.

Lan 2010/04/08 at 10:09 am

First, I’m a woman, and I have to say I LOVE this. I switched to paying for everything with cash about six weeks ago, and after trying countless methods of budgeting, this is the only thing that works for me. But aside from budgeting, I’ve always thought debit cards look a little “high school” and it’s kind of silly (and very unmanly, for the guys) to be buying small items with your credit card. Plus, I love the *feeling* of paying with cash. Like I’m so much more in control. I used to put almost everything on my visa, try not to think about how much I just spent, and end up with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Definitely not worth the measly amount of cash back or rewards if it means losing that control.

paul 2010/04/08 at 10:41 am

Thanks Lan. I love it, debit cards are so “high school.”

Kyle C. 2010/04/08 at 12:19 pm

I guess I am not much of a man, but I would certainly consider myself to be one if I were at the teller asking for $609 in cash… interesting amount btw.

paul 2010/04/08 at 12:37 pm

Ha, I of course wasn’t talking to you in general, and to be totally hypocritical I just bought a sandwich at lunch with my debit card because I forgot to reload from the envelopes this morning. Funny you added it up, I just picked random numbers. Now who’s the geek around here anyways?

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff 2010/04/08 at 1:19 pm

Ummm…has anyone mentioned that the top 10 reasons are numbered to 11 (I looked but didn’t see it)?

Real women use a credit card to use the cash back rewards to pay for discount gift cards to places they were going to go anyway…they then pay off the balance every month and shake their heads at the men who accidentally washed their cash (or let a baby eat it). 🙂

paul 2010/04/08 at 1:26 pm

Geez you guys are good, yes there are 11 steps but I’m going to still call it a top ten for marketing purposes :-). BitFS that’s hilarious, yes I have laundered my share of cash. But I wouldn’t let my kids chew on my money that’s gross and it’s harder to get my hostess cherry pie from the vending machine that way.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff 2010/04/08 at 1:37 pm

Or Mini Oreos in my case…

Spedie 2010/04/08 at 2:03 pm

You know, I did that credit card thing for 13 years, got my cash back, and lots of goodies I thought…..

I paid it off every single month, for 13 long years. It was 13 years, almost to the very day that I stopped dealing with the plastic.

13 years later, I added up all those purchases. Yes, I am a geek and keep excellent records.

Just over $156,000 later, I found out that I had nothing, well, almost nothing, to show for it – I did not have $156K worth of stuff sitting around my house.

As for me and mine, we will stick with ol’ Ben from now on.

paul 2010/04/08 at 2:22 pm

Right on Spedie. I’m curious what was it that made you switch?

Spedie 2010/04/09 at 9:25 am

What made me give it up was sitting down one day and adding up all those credit card statements. Right then and there I saw how stupid I had been – overspending on crap!

I have now been plastic free for over 2 years. My “Plastic-Free!” date was 12/25/2007.

What a difference this one choice made in my life. Ohhhh, I was ONE of THOSE people who said I NEEDED a CARD! OHHH, I was ONE of those people who paid it EVERY single MONTH in full! I never had a late fee. I didn’t pay interest….for 13 years. I was responsible! I was not one of “those” people who couldn’t responsibly handle credit! (Yeah, right…..)

But look at what I overspent! There goes my retirement!

I only wish others would listen to my story and realize this for themselves. But, they won’t.

Wiseguy 2010/04/08 at 2:05 pm

We have many good points here, in both the article and the comments. Key point: what’s best for some may not be best for others.

As mentioned (and exemplified by one reader), it is easy to spend more with a card if you’re not thinking about it (or if you’re subconsciously avoiding the thought). If this happens to you, it might be better for you to use cash more often. I, on the other hand, am a saver and somewhat of a perfectionist, so I naturally pay close attention to details. Rather than charging something and dealing with it later, at the moment of purchase I’m thinking to myself, “At my current rewards rate, this tank of gas is going to net me almost a dollar of cash back!” This is only beneficial since I have been able to pay off my cards in full every month (thus never paying one cent in interest charges). If I were unable to pay off my balances in full, the interest would probably bring me to a net loss, and I would be better off paying in cash instead.

Also, I understand that retailers absorb a small fee for credit card transactions. I’m all for helping everyone out, and I believe that “every little bit counts,” but using a credit card is to my benefit, as explained above. If a store does not want to pay that fee, they have two options: 1) don’t accept cards, or 2) ask me to use cash. Though it sounds strange, #2 is perfectly feasible. For example, if my restaurant bill simply said “Cash is preferred” and I had enough cash on me, I would respect that request.

It’s a good article, as it gives you something to think about. Cash may be a more sensible option for you. The article does not imply that absolutely everyone should just cut up all of their cards and call it a day.

JoeTaxpayer 2010/04/08 at 4:39 pm

I’d like to address one aspect here. “You spend more when you charge.”
This statement seems intuitive. But I have yet to see a study that can parse out the nitty-gritty of the data. If I go to the supermarket with a list and $100 cash, that’s one thing, but if I have my card and see a few sale items, spending $150, does that count against me? I spent more, but it’s not like a bought an extra magazine. It’s food we’ll eat, we throw away very little food. Leftovers become lunches or another meal.
Our friend Craig wrote about this at and concluded that his ‘need’ purchases were the bulk of what was spent, and those purchases gave enough bonus money to make the card use worthwhile.
I am a numbers guy as I know you are. I see studies and question cause and effect. Honestly, I don’t know how one would isolate the variables enough to understand if card use prompted more spending. The large purchases we make get an extended warranty. Double the original up to a year. That alone is worth about 5% or so. I know this was tongue-in-cheek, but it does make you think.

paul 2010/04/08 at 4:54 pm

Very true and I don’t think this is a universal rule far from it. You’re right this was tongue and cheek but stepping back into the real world it is indeed a hard thing to quantify. All I can extrapolate from whatever surveys, polls or statistics is how my family works. If I have a finite amount of resources either real or imagined, I do much better than if I have an expandable bucket if that makes sense. I can tangibly look at my wallet and know I have $139 and that I won’t be replenishing that money until next Tuesday hence maybe I don’t want to buy that magazine. But where this derails is planned purchases. I’ll agree with that 100%. If I’m really thinking about it and have researched buying that new camcorder. Whether I pay for it with credit or cash is not going to change how much I spend. The difference for me is with your everyday spending. Lunch, groceries, flipping Target. Money just seems to disappear there. And why does everything have to be red, it just ends up making me angry.

Anyways my point is that the way I’m wired and many of the people I’ve worked with from a financial counseling perspective love the idea of physically limiting your spending one way or the other, and that’s why I like cash.

Steve 2010/04/08 at 6:38 pm

Not true if I fold my credit card I can still use it for online purchases. I think real men like to buy stuff online in their underwear.

paul 2010/04/08 at 9:05 pm

Real men don’t want to think about you sitting at your computer buying stuff :-). good stuff.

George 2010/04/08 at 10:50 pm

I have to agree with Steve. I prefer using my credit card when shopping online in my underwear. =)

[email protected] 2010/04/09 at 7:43 am

Revised #11: Real men walk away from the checkout counter after having made their purchase in cash, never having to worry about identity theft.

Paul, I’m in full agreement with what you’ve written!

Joe 2010/04/09 at 9:03 am

Real men know that credit and debit is the same as cash and it all comes out of your bank account anyway, so they don’t spend more than they should. 🙂

Cash. Credit. Debit. Check. It’s all a medium of money. Treat them equal (i.e. as cash) and you’ll do just fine.

[email protected] 2010/04/11 at 12:05 pm

My feelings exactly!

MAG 2010/04/09 at 11:13 am

Great read. I’m seeing more and more service merchants offering “cash discounts” when it comes to paying. Seems cash is still king.

Money Reasons 2010/04/09 at 11:35 am

Hmmm, I disagree!

1.) Cash is dirty, and a good way to catch the flu
2.) Carrying a huge wad of cash, makes you a potential mugging candidate
3.) I don’t like a big bump on my right butt cheek.
4.) I like getting discounts when I buy merchandise (via credit card rewards)
5.) If my wallet gets stolen, I not out hundreds of dollars (I just call the credit card company and get a new card)
6.) Insurance reasons when using a rental car…
and other perks… 🙂

Purchase choices aren’t made by the payment means, it’s made by the purchaser! If you have great willpower, you can make the purchases with either financial tool… But I happen to prefer the credit card means for all of the perks listed above!

Ronny Measons 2010/04/20 at 9:24 am

1.) Life is dirty, and a good way to catch the flu.
2.) No it doesn’t. Flashing it does.
3.) Carry your wallet in your front pocket.
4.) Cash negotiates awesome discounts.
5.) Carry it in your front pocket next to your gun.
6.) Finally, a reason that makes sense!

csdx 2010/04/20 at 9:48 am

But my gun is just too big to be contained in my pocket

Joe Plemon 2010/04/09 at 12:05 pm

I never knew I was a real man; now I do. I am going to insist that my wife read this post..maybe she will better appreciate what a hunk she is married to! 🙂

Great post, making your point with tongue firmly in cheek.

BTW, Dave Ramsey’s FPU class lesson on Dumping Debt sites a Dunn and Bradsteet survey that indicates people spend 12-18% more when using plastic compared with using cash. I am like you Paul; I can’t physically spend more than the cash I put in my envelope.

And my wife won’t let me have more…maybe she will when she finds out what a man I am…or maybe not.

paul 2010/04/09 at 3:33 pm

Hey Joe I knew you were a real man all along. My wife agrees btw :-). You’re right on that reference too and that’s what I was talking about but I have never been able to actually put my hands on that data which I would love to see. I’d also like to say hello to Joe’s wife who I hope is reading.

Kelly 2010/04/09 at 4:00 pm

This is a funny and clever post, Paul.
I didn’t know you’d be pointing to me today or I might have had my own list up. 😉
Thanks for the link love.

paul 2010/04/09 at 4:54 pm

Of course. I should have warned you so you could create your real women post up :-).

MyFinancialObjectives 2010/04/11 at 5:23 pm

lol, great post! The point is an excellent one, always better when you can inject humor into it:)

paul 2010/04/11 at 9:25 pm

Thanks MFO, it’s nice to know that I amuse slightly more than myself.

Don 2010/04/12 at 4:49 pm

Paying in cash does help to keep one within limits.
Yet, personally I like the debit card receipts to help track my spending.
Credit cards went out the window last year when banks arbitrarily yanked up rates and fees.
Cash is King. Plastic is well, plastic but with a mean bite.
The little things really do add up. Just ask Poor Richard.

Belmont Thornton 2010/04/12 at 10:01 pm

Nice thought provoking stuff though I do not see any harm in using your credit card if you can pay it off in time.Paying in cash is beneficial for people because it prevents overspending and splurging.

csdx 2010/04/16 at 10:03 am

Re: 10, wait, don’t they have ways to swipe your cellphones in and everything in Japan? I thought they were all about being more electronic than everyone else. Also they may look at you funny if you try to use US cash rather than Yen.

I find spend less with cards than cash. When I have cash, I can spend it in the coke machine, without it, I use the fountain. I’ll round even further up for tips (I’m sure the waitresses don’t mind that). Also I’m terrible with coins, it’s all play money to me and into the vending machines they go, whereas I’ll track my cards down to the last red cent.

Although I admit, I haven’t ever tried the only spend X amount of money for groceries. Usually we just make a list of ingredients for the meals we want to make, and buy it then, so I’ve never based it off the total sum (though I do look in the paper to see what’s on special that week and try and make something around it).

James 2010/04/16 at 10:07 am

Cash is king. i typically carry cash for the sting factor. Plus i like having 50’s in my wallet, its kind of a show off thing.

Broke by Choice 2010/04/16 at 2:08 pm

This was a fun read.

James 2011/05/19 at 7:11 am

Cash is best and now I have plenty of it since I sold my structured settlement payments!

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