My biggest fear this is always to hop onto a taxi without cash. Since I moved to Nedbank and got a bundled account, I have started using cash less and less. My bank account has a fixed fee of N$130 per month with unlimited withdrawals, EFT and Swiping. As such I hardly carry cash.
In December I took at 28-hour train just to realise that I did not have cash on me. Luckily, I had already paid for my ticket and brought enough food for the trip else I would have starved. I tried to arrange with my fiancé to bring me cash at the station but by the time he got there, the train had already departed.
The struggle came when I reached the North. Phone went off, no taxi money and taxis did not want to pass by ATMs in December because of the long ques. I was stranded. Eventually a friend had to come from the hospital to come get give me cash.
Just as though I have not learnt my lesson, I came to SA sunday with zero cash on me. In my mind, I was going to take a train, swipe to load credit on the train card . My colleague was then coming to pick me up from the station. I had enough airtime that I got from a stranger at the airport last time so what do I need the cash for?
Today, I asked a friend to drop me at the visa collection office to go pick up my work permit. It just so happens that she also did not have cash and just assumed that she can swipe for parking. When we got there, you cannot swipe, and we had to “beg” the security guard to open us as we did not have the R8 for the parking ticket. So lucky that she was South African else I would have been stranded with my English.
This brought me to re-evaluate my use of cash. Why do I use the card so much and what are some of the benefit of using the card instead of cash? Which instances are ideal for using cash and why some people prefer the use of cash?
For me the use of card is mainly driven by my financial management journey. If it cost me less or helps me become at better manage my money, I will go for it. One of the reasons why I favor using EFT or swipes is because it leaves an audit trail. You can easily follow your transaction history and know what you spend your money on. This helps as when you make EFT payments you can clearly write your own references and when you swipe, they tend to write the place where you swiped. When I go do my review of bank statement for items that are unusual or tracking where my money went, it tend to be faster.
In addition, if you are like me who have unlimited swipes and EFT, it does not cost a thing ( as the bank fee that is fixed is a sunk cost – watch out for this article) , it work out cheaper for me than driving to an ATM to draw money.
Other situations where you should be using EFT and swiping include paying your recurring house bills, making third party payments that require proof of payment as well as cross bank transfer.
Although there are many benefits to using cashless method of payments, it can also be a downside. Some people tend to overspend because they do not feel the pain of money as there is no cash changing hands. As our brain is not wired to deal with money, you might end up spending more thinking you have more when in actual fact you are running low on your bank balance.
With regards to the use of cash, I like using it at places were I feel like it is not safe in terms of using a bank card. This can be places where one feel like there is a risk of your card getting cloned or defrauded hence when I go to such places, I make sure I carry cash for buying even if there is an option to swipe.
Cash also allows you to come to reality with what is left for spending. As you buy, cash is changing hand and hence your mind cannot fool you. There are also places that only accept cash and hence no choice of using bank card.
The disadvantage of using cash is just that there is no audit trail of what you did with the money ( unless of course you keep every receipt or record of what you spend your money on). It also can lead you to do to impulsive buys if you always have cash in your wallet.
So I will go draw a cash tomorrow to keep in my wallet in case of an emergency. What is your preferred method of spending?