I was listening to Dave Ramsey the other day and he was talking about the “ouch factor” that one feels when spending cash. I love his show and tend to see the wisdom in most of what he preaches. However, this day, his premise was that, when one spends cash, the brain sees that as “real” and then makes one feel the pain of the cash leaving your hand and going to someone else, the way that a debit and/or swiping a card just can’t do.

Well, that may be true for those people who get paid by check instead of direct deposit, used cash for purchases and/or paying bills at some point in their lives, and such. But, even I, at age 39, have never really used cash, except as a wee little. When I was 16, I marched myself to the bank and opened an account. Since I had an official paycheck and about $50 (kids, this was a substantial amount back in the day!) the bank officer opened an account for me.

Side note: It was many years later that I figured out that he really didn’t have to open an account for me, that they had no legal way to bind me to any contract, as I was 16. I now understand why he seemed so surprised to have me march in and decidedly announce that I needed an account and that I asked about interest rates on a saving account. Funny how it just seemed the thing to do, so I did it. No one told me I couldn’t, I didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to be possible, so I went ahead and did it.

Anyhow, I got checks with the account, and an ATM card. I almost NEVER took out cash. When I did, I would spend it because the amount was already taken out of my account and was reflected on my check register. If my check register logged it as a reduction from my account, whatever I had in my wallet was found money and I could spend it until it was gone, without any thought.

This is the problem with the “ouch factor.” What Dave needs to realize is that, for anyone who has been born in the last few decades, the “ouch factor” comes, for many of us, not with the spending of cash, but from seeing our bank send us a notice of our transaction (along with a balance) as a banner on our smart phone. We have access to our bank account at all times, now, and that’s how many of us determine how much money we “have.”

So, when I make a transaction with my debit card, I feel the “ouch.” When I have cash, it’s free money day!!

I’ll leave you with an example. Someone gave my son some money as a gift to put into his savings account. Well, he uses the Bank of Mom and Dad, and so he gave us the cash, and I put the money from our checking account into savings, making a notation that this was his money. This left me with $50 burning a hole in my pocketbook.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when I was in town with the kids. Snacks were bought, lunch was acquired and consumed, the car was washed, a yard sale was made use of…and all with the cash I had in my wallet. At the end of the day, it was gone. As we drove home, after having put gas in the van and paying with my debit card, the thought that crossed my mind was this:

“Man, that was kind of awesome. We were in town most of the day and all I spent money on was gas!”

Yeah. It’s like that.