I was reading a post this morning that talked about how to carry less in your wallet. One of the recommendations is to carry less cash and rely on a couple of credit cards. However, most advice on how to get out of debt and manage your money better suggest that you use your credit cards as little as possible, trying to make purchases in cash. This helps you resist the temptation to spend what you don’t have. Here we have two pieces of advice that conflict with one another. So what to do?
You think for yourself what is best for you. I know that’s not exactly an earth shattering insight, however, if is a key piece of advice we often forget in the midst of a difficult situation. Usually it’s because we’re trying to please other people. For instance, if mom says we should do something, and we want to stay on mom’s good side, we give her advice more weight than we should. We’re not deciding what’s best for us, we’re deciding not to be in conflict with mom. Yes, there are times that is what is best, but that’s a bigger decision around a bigger situation.
The fact of the matter is no one should know you better than you and no one should understand the situation you are in better than you. Yes, others might have insight you don’t have or be able to look at a given situation in a less biased way, but ultimately it’s your life and it needs to be your decision. If you live on the decisions and advice of others then you are not in control of your own life (as much as any of us can be). While this gives us the ability to blame others and make excuses of why we aren’t where we want to be or why this part of our life isn’t up to our desires, we still have to live with the fact that we abdicated the decision to someone else.
And this isn’t to say to ignore advice. We should gather advice, especially for large or important decisions. However, we need to process that advice and come to our own conclusions and decisions. After all, we have to live with those decisions. That means at some point we need to commit to a direction and go for it. Sometimes that means not having a perfectly clear picture of what we should do. The temptation is to wait around until we get more information, better advice, to wait it out. Keep in mind that not making a decision is making a decision (think about it). That, too, is allowing something else to control your decision. If you choose to do that, realize that you live with the consequences of that.
As to the advice of whether or not to carry cash, I’m in favor of doing so. Not only does it help manage impulse buying, but there are times when credit cards aren’t going to cut it. I can think of two specific occasions where I took my family out to eat and the credit card systems were down. In one case, if I didn’t have cash I would have had to wait around until they got their computer systems up. In the other case we would have to had to pile back into the van and find somewhere else to eat. Yes, I still use my credit cards, but we’re slowly but surely working our way more towards cash. It does help the budget, after all.