The most rewarding thing about helping people rewrite their money story is witnessing the transformation that they go through when they get real about changing their relationship with their money.

Part of this process involves a 30 day cash transformation. During those 30 days I ask clients to agree to a spending plan where they are given a set amount of money, based on past spending patterns, that they can only use on behavioural spending such as retail therapy and food. And they have to use cash.

I tend to get a lot of push back about switching to cash at first. Many people like to use cards to collect points; others are worried about carrying around wads of cash for security purposes. Aren’t we moving to a cashless society? The reason why I ask clients to only use cash for 30 days is because there is a different psychology around spending with cash versus with a card.

I believe that we do not have the same emotional connection to cards as we do to cash. There is nothing like getting a crisp bill from a teller or ATM, I don’t flick my cards or feel their texture between my fingertips like I do with cash. My memories of being handed a bill from my grandfather or finding change that dropped out of my sleeping dads pocket between the coach cushions just wouldn’t be the same if it was a card.

Cash is colourful and beautiful, it has meaning. When Viola Desmond became the first Canadian woman to be featured on a $10 bill we celebrated. We all ran out to get our own “Viola” and proudly posted it on our social media feeds. It sparked conversation among us. Would we have done the same for the latest Master Card?

I believe it is this disconnection that we have with cards that has led us to the point of unconscious spending and unwanted debt. In fact, according to Forbes we spend 100% more when using a card as compared to cash*.

Clients have told me that after the 30 day money transformation and switching back to cash that they feel financial freedom, saying things like: “I don’t feel deprived,” “I am spending without guilt,” and “I always know where I stand with my money.”

My husband and I have been using cash for two years now and we agree that we wouldn’t go back to using a card for behavioural purchases. Recently, we got busy and forgot to get our cash out. We ended up at the grocery store and had to use a card for our purchases we both felt like we were going to be sick over it.

If you haven’t used cash in awhile I suggest that you try it. Take a look at what you spend on food, retail purchases and entertainment in a week and take out that amount in cash. Try living off that amount for a week and see what you discover about your spending habits!

*Hardekopf, Bill. “Do People Really Spend More with Credit Cards?”, July 16, 2018,

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