Why Paying with Cash Hurts (and Why it Should)

These days, my monthly budget is on the boring side. Aside from our regular spending, I’ve got a mortgage payment to fork over, groceries to buy, and utility bills to pay. Throw in some payments to my kids’ 529 plans and my SEP-IRA and I’m basically done for the month. After all of the bills are paid, the key for us is making sure that the rest gets transferred into savings so that it doesn’t accidentally get spent.

But it wasn’t always this way, and I was reminded of that fact the other day when I was flipping through one of my old notebooks. That’s when I found our monthly zero-sum budget for August of 2010, and that’s when our old lifestyle smacked me right in the face. Want to know how many bills I paid in that month? Twenty-four.

Car payments, credit card bills, and personal loans, oh my. It’s no wonder we weren’t saving anything. Fortunately, it was easy to look at that old monthly budget and pinpoint the exact cause of our unfortunate situation. The problem: We financed everything and never, ever paid cash.

Low Monthly Payments for Life

Fact: You can have nearly anything you want.

I can too. We all can. Cars. Clothes. Diamonds. Trips to Hawaii. Almost any earthly possession you’ve ever laid your eyes on can be yours.

Well, kind of.

If you’re willing to make monthly payments for as long as it takes, whether it’s five years, ten, or twenty, then it can be yours. Does that sound tempting? Probably not.

But that’s exactly what we do. In the fourth quarter of 2013, U.S household debt swelled to a monstrous $11.52 trillion. Of course, some of the money was borrowed to purchase homes, pay for college, or start a business. A certain percentage can also be blamed on things like medical bills, unemployment, and emergencies. But the rest? My guess is boats, iPads, and designer shoes. Oh, and let’s not forget furniture, date nights, and family dinners at the Olive Garden. The rest is anyone’s guess.

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Source: Crosswalk | Holly Johnson, Club Thrifty

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