Wednesday, May 28, 2008

how I lost my thrift

Way back, in the mists of my financially strapped younger days, I used to keep a budget. It was very detailed. I had a cost breakdown on each bowl of cereal. I paid cash for everything. I thought about and debated almost every purchase two, three times before actually completing the sale. It was considered practically a sin to return an item. I knew to the penny how much was in my bank account on any given day. This was before such amenities as direct deposit, prepaid bills, and ATMs. It was much easier then to budget and be thrifty.

Somehow, I lost my thrift.

I have a credit card. I use my debit card for almost all my purchases that aren't business related. Pretty much every store takes credit or debit. Even Tim Hortons has a card. One could easily get by without ever using cash. It is now easier than ever to spend money without knowing whether you actually have any money.
I have steady employment and money that magically appears in my bank account every two weeks. Just as magically, it goes out of my account at regular intervals to pay all my bills. Anything not covered by the prepaid option can easily be paid on the internet or over the phone. I never have to actually hand over any cash, write a cheque, or fill out a deposit/withdrawal form. Heck, I never even have to deal with a teller. Or a CSR. And, worst yet, my bank doesn't even send out monthly statements anymore. You must access your account on the internet to check your balance or account activites.

That is how I lost my thrift.

I lost touch with cash. Literally and figuratively.


  1. Great post and great blog!

    I agree with this post. Although I still carry cash with me as I'm conscious of the number of debits I can have on my account. For some reason, using debit for a $1.50 purchase just doesn't make sense. But I'm happy, in some ways, to be in a paperless society. I've recently put to the shredder old statements that really, didn't need to be printed and sent to me.

  2. I'm happy to cut down on paper. And I'm thrilled with some of the convenience we have. And yet, it is odd to manage the finances for a family of five and never actually see any money. Sometimes it gets a little scary cause it all starts to see kinda fake.

  3. HD -I also agree that a "paperless society" is not a bad thing. Now, those little ATM slips...!! I am in the process of shredding many many documents from my late mother's account (which was shared by my brother and myself - so 3x everything was sent).

    And I can't use debit on those little purchases either.

    EM: Sometimes I even forget that I am being PAID to work!

  4. Paperless society? Now I get 2 receipts every time I shop, plus they always want to staple them. But ya, I agree it's hard to be thrifty when they make it so darned easy to spend.

  5. I guess it shows how old we are that we liked the old method of actually having cash on hand...

    I know it's all very easy with debit and credit cards, but I'm sure many more people are in debt because of it. Which, I guess, is good for the banks, interest wise. It's so easy to lose track. Luckily, I'm from the old days, and though I don't know my balance to the cent, I do keep track of it withing $50-$100.

  6. XUP: and the receipts are longer when you use debit, Optimum card, Air Miles, whatever!

    Jazz: I was probably a bit anal about it all in my 20's! But, if you watch those Till Debt Do Us Part or Maxed Out shows, the credit card always gets cut up and jars of real money are put on the kitchen counter.

    ...and for another post perhaps, how young cashiers cannot count change back to you and take a long time to add up 1.45 if it's in dimes and nickels!

  7. very interesting post...Well you probably will not believe it but I have never used a debit card... ever... I told this to a cashier the other day when I was buying my groceries with cash and the woman looked at me incredulously as if I was from another planet!!

    I really have a hard time letting go of control of my hard earned pennies!
    Am I the only one left?

    gwen in New Brunswick

  8. Gwen, thanks for stopping by.

    I can certainly understand about the control thing. It took me a long time to get into using debit. In fact, it was only when Loblaws starting giving away points for groceries if you used their card that I started. I collected enough points to get a free (very nice) microwave.

    I believe you, but you are probably 1 in a 100!!!!


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