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Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Return to Using Cash

Want to make a difference in this world and give yourself more freedom? Tired of your bank nickel and diming you? Concerned about identity theft?

Then stop using your debit card for everything.

The retailer pays 2% of the cost of the purchase as a fee for a credit card purchase. That money goes to the bank that issued the card. A purchase with a debit card will be less, often just a flat fee of 10 cents per transaction. This also goes to the bank that issued the card.

That can add up to a lot of money.

Do you find yourself using your card for the most mundane of purchases these days?  You buy coffee with the card? How about beer? I remember when it was a sign of shame when one "charged" booze of any sort. Those days are gone. It’s now second nature to whip out the debit card for most anything; a $6.00 fast food purchase, a soda at the quick mart, a pack of gum at the Rite Aid. I routinely see people use their card at my local laundromat.

But YOU don’t pay the transaction fees, the merchant does, right?

Well, to the merchant, that fee is the price of doing business and therefore gets passed to the consumer through the cost of the products they sell. So you do actually pay.

But it’s not so much about who is paying in contrast to where the money is going. We rail against big banks but then have no issues using our Bank of America or Chase Bank issued debit card to buy a $2.00 notebook.

I bumped into a representative for VISA through a local business gathering a year or so ago and someone in our group asked him what company VISA viewed as their biggest competitor.  The guy didn’t even blink. He said that there was no company, their chief competitor was CASH. And so, like any big company, their efforts are spent eliminating the competition.

Think about it, if there is no cash, then every transaction a warrants a fee. Every purchase would yield a payoff FOR THEM! You’re paying extra because the merchant has to cover the fee he pays out so every time you swipe your card, you are costing yourself money too. How convenient.

Recently I started keeping 20 to 30 bucks in my pocket and I’ve been buying my coffee, my groceries and the substantial quantities of beer that I drink with the cash I’ve been walking around with in my pocket. Once you get over the initial weirdness, it is actually cool to think you are doing something fewer and fewer people are doing these days. Sorta like listening to a record on a turntable if anyone knows what that is.

As far as your personal security is concerned, when was the last time you were in a restaurant you were in for the first time and handed over your card and the waiter or waitress walked off with it and brought it back to you to sign?  You don’t know anything about the place.

Using one of those mini ATMs at a stop along the highway is a sketchy proposition also. You don’t know anything about the network that machine is on, who owns it or who is running the operation.

Then there is the tracking portion of your transaction. Every time you use your card, you leave a trail. It’s not like your committing crimes and that you have anything to hide but you leave a record everywhere you go and use your card. At the very least your card transaction ends up, along with the item you purchased, in the store database for future marketing purposes. Information, btw, the store has a right to use and sell. It's nobodies business where you are, where you shop or what you are buying. Make yourself mysterious.  

My favorites are the people who over draw their checking account and get whacked with a $30.00 overdraft fee because they swiped their card for a latte at the local coffee franchise. Now that’s an expensive cup of coffee! Had they just had the cash in their pocket in the first place, they wouldn’t have had to guess how much they had in their account. Having cash is a good guarantee of funds.

Of course using cash for everything isn't always possible. You'll want to use your credit card for large purchases and online purchases since it is secure and has built in protections for the card holder but for the piddling things we buy here and there throughout the day, cash is still the quickest IF you put some in your pocket. 

It would be great to see what happens if somehow everybody could do this but Libertarians are not ones to go leading a consumer charge or attempt to get people to join together, sign a petition or start a boycott. That's a waste of time and effort. Libertarians take ownership of themselves and their own individual actions. The rest will fall into place. 

Try using cash more if you want to and see if you see a benefit for the effort expended. If it doesn't make you feel any better, forget it. But think about what you can do if you feel the need to complain about bank fees and the rising cost of goods. The consumer is not powerless. There are steps you can take and using cash is only one of them. 

YOU are not a pushover and YOU don't have to just lump it if you don't like what's going on. Do a search for my "Don't Buy New" entry for other ideas. It's in here somewhere. 

Transitioning back to cash is a slow and interesting process for me since it used to be something most of us did all the time but I’m starting to get used to it again. The final hurdle will be walking into my local gas station and putting down 12 big ones for gas and going back outside to put it in the tank instead of paying at the pump, which is where I do 95% of my debit card transactions in the first place.

Then I’ll know I’ve arrived. 

1 comment:

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