When I first began working, I opened a bank account and got my first debit card. I was used to not having any money, having been a student. So for a long time, I was a very good saver. I never drew out cash unless I needed it and in those days, most places had a £5-10 minimum spend for card payments. No matter how peckish I was at the train station, I didn’t buy a sandwich or a coffee. When I moved in with my boyfriend, we were very careful with money because we were saving for a deposit on our first house – that meant when I was at the supermarket I only bought what we needed. Luckily we both knew how to cook so we didn’t need to waste money on lots of prepared food.
Last week I left my bank card at my sister’s house and I have had to use what little cash I had to get by. I could have gone to the bank, I could have driven the two hour round trip to get my card and I could have gotten my husband to withdraw some cash but I was curious to see how I would get on. The most obvious result is that I have saved quite a lot of money! I do usually get my groceries from Ocado and that was no different so that was already paid for. But throughout the week I often pop to the shops for some milk or whatever and I find myself with a basket over flowing with bits and bobs. Over the week without my card, I’ve had to only get what I needed. No cheeky DVD or mascara. No toy for the little one. No Pizza Express pizza for an easy dinner.
I could easily get by with half a tank of petrol a week, maybe even less. But sometimes when I get cabin fever I set out with my son on a distant adventure without really thinking of the fuel cost. It’s only when the light comes on 50 miles from home that I fill up, pay on the card and try not to pay attention to the frightening cost of driving. This past week, I’ve lived local. Local playdates, walks to the post office, staying indoors, baking colouring in and the like. It has been enjoyable. And when I have been out, I’ve packed a bottle of water and a few snacks so that I haven’t needed to pay the inflated prices of sustenance on the go. There is an organic bakery near where I live and normally if I’m walking past, it’s impossible not to go in and buy a coffee, a sausage roll and something for the kid. That’s a fiver almost every day!
As I’ve been typing I’ve totted up the money that I’ve saved and realised that when I use my card, I’m not thinking about the expenditure. Having the tangible money in my purse has made me appreciate the actual value of it. It’s been good for me and though I’m not going to forgo using the debit card now it is back in my possession, I will be more conscious of my spending and with the rising cost of living, that can only be a good thing. Could you live without your debit card?