Cash is king

  • Published
  • By Maj. Trevor Whitehill
  • 341st Comptroller Squadron commander
Living within your means is a sure-fire approach to financial freedom. With increases in gas prices and other everyday living expenses, we all have, at one time or another, felt the answer to getting ahead financially is an increase in pay. There is no arguing with the math. Certainly increasing income will help overcome rising prices and other surprises life has a tendency to throw out. However, one aspect to this scenario that is often not explicitly addressed is behavior. Specifically, the idea that there is no change in behavior or life style is easily overlooked. Looking at personal finance from both the income, as well as the behavior perspective, may unlock flexibility previously unrecognized. Executing from both sides without question will enhance efforts to meet ever increasing demands and win the personal finance war.

Changing life style, particularly learning to live without, can be a huge undertaking that takes commitment and resolve to win. Do not be discouraged, there is behavior everyone can take today to stretch the buying power of the dollar without experiencing that initial shock of life-style change. That behavior is, when possible, pay with cash. We live in a high-tech world where business is conducted electronically and convenience is highly valued. Automatic bill pay and direct deposit are conveniences that save time. Life happens and it is not always possible to buy strictly with cash.

We are also often lured by some of the promotions credit card companies offer to get us to use the plastic such as airline miles and sweepstakes. These are all reasons to use credit cards but they do not save money in the end. Why use cash? Studies have shown that consumers who finance purchases with credit are more likely to overspend than if the purchase had been made with cash. Often purchases would not be made at all if the consumer had the cash on hand.

If you're ready for a change and want to take action now, try financing this weekend's night out or Saturday morning coffee with cash. When you are ready to continue, plan out your activities with a budget and pay cash. Communicate the plan with family, gain buy-in, stay in budget and repeat. This sounds pretty simple, but over time it will become second nature. Financial freedom can be gained by living within your means and by doing so, it will ensure we all win.