Before I talk about this month’s challenge (living without credit cards) I’d like to reflect on last month’s challenge, a month without make-up.
This was definitely the most difficult challenge I’ve faced. Make-up is a habit I’ve had since high school. I had never gone to work without make-up, and I honestly believed make-up made me look better. Going without make-up, especially at first, made me feel kind of naked.
But after a month of living without it, I feel confident working and socializing without make-up. However, I do not plan to go make-up less forever. I will still wear it for special events like weddings, hot dates with the hubby, or “big impression” events like job interviews.
I really enjoyed the extra time I saved every morning by not wearing it, but I did not enjoy living through some unconcealed breakouts. That was probably the hardest for me… having to look those zits right in the face (my face) and let them sit there without concealer. Ugh. I don’t know how guys handle breakouts without the comfort of a concealer stick nearby.
In any case, I’m glad I challenged myself with this. I learned a lot about my perception of myself vs. how others perceive me. Like we all know but most of us don’t acknowledge, we are more concerned with how we look than how others look. Nobody is looking at you as closely as you are.
But on to this month’s challenge: no credit cards. I had a difficult time choosing this month’s theme because I’d already lived without some major habits: meat-eating, dairy products, and white flour, just to name a few. I considered not giving anything up this month when a friend suggested (on the evening of March 31st, no less!) that I try living without credit cards. This was the perfect challenge, since it dealt with a definite habit (which I realized as I paid for the dinner we were sharing with my credit card) and it didn’t require any prep besides driving through the ATM and stocking up on cash.
I feel a bit like a rap star with the bulging wad of cash in my wallet. I’m not used to carrying more than $20 or $30, so it feels strange to have so much green at my disposal. I have to resist the urge to toss it up in the air and “let it rain” while dancing in booty shorts to some provocative R&B (Not really. That was just the natural extension of the rap star simile. I apologize for the image in your head right now).
I packed up all my credit cards, wrapped them in a rubber band, and parked them on my dresser for the month. There are seven of them. Seven? Really? Why does a self-proclaimed minimalist have seven credit cards??? Hmm… questions I need to explore as this month unfolds.
One thing I’ve already noticed about switching to cash… I am reluctant to part with it. I really don’t want to “let it rain.” I want to guard those green bills in my wallet like a helicopter mom taking her kids to a carnival. You will not leave my sight. Oh, five of you want to go over to that expensive coffee place and waste yourselves on a drink you could make at home? I don’t think so, buckos. I raised you better than that. Get back in the wallet. We’re going home right now.
So this is good, right? I’m a little more picky about where I spend my money. But I am rather appalled at how much money I spend. I take $200 out of the ATM at a time, and it goes fast. Like super fast. Like the child of a helicopter mom when he finally gets out of her sight at the carnival and can run free… Cotton candy? A horsey ride? Yes, please! Although I am trying hard not to spend my money frivolously (recent purchases included new wiper blades, underwear for my kids, and a baby shower gift), I am still amazed at how much money I spend regularly.
For a bit of a safety net, I am keeping my debit card in my wallet. It’s not actually a credit card. I need it to access my ATM cash flow and it will be handy on the off-chance that there is a true emergency and I need to spend a lot of money at once.
I am not sure how I will be able to tell if I actually spend less money this month. I know what my credit card bill is approximately each month, and I can keep track of my my trips to the ATM to compare, but this isn’t an exact science. Maybe the benefit of doing this is just becoming more aware of my spending habits. We shall see.
As always, feel free to join me! Load up on cash, put on your booty shorts, and “let it rain”!