CHANGE CAN BE A GOOD THING
If there is one thing that COVID-19 has shown me, is that we live by our own solution.
When COVID-19 hit Adelaide, late March 2020, our banking provider decided to close some branches down and those that remained open were reducing their hours. They told customers to only access the branch if absolutely necessary due to risk of transmission of the virus. Whilst I understand the extra protection level for patrons and staff, at the time, it really seemed to be a hidden agenda, a push for consumers to go full swing into a cashless society where everything you purchase and spend your money is tracked. Using COVID as a veil, and fading cash out has made it much harder for consumers to get physical and foldable money. Not only are you removing a persons freedom to purchase in cash, you have eroded the choice that I had to spend MY money in any way that I chose.
It became apparent that this was true when I was questioned as to why I wanted to get cash out and was told that if it wasn’t essential, that I could not! It led me to question, why am I being denied access to MY own money? As panic from COVID started to gain traction, many more people started to line up outside the branch before it even opened. Many more people were questioned and denied physical access to their money. As the line of people waiting grew and grew all the way outside the shopping centre and into the car park, I knew that I had to change the way I used money to reduce the unnecessary stress that this whole new “life experience” had caused.
The reason I am sharing this with you is because I am a cash person, and I am finding the entire COVID situation, when it comes to spending and accessing my own money is extremely difficult, and budgeting and money coaching is my profession!
Since March 2020, I have become more and more anxious about money. Before I could open my purse and money was there, now I have to constantly check my phone or computer for my account balance to make sure I haven’t overspent! It feels like I am always looking over my shoulder, constantly checking my balance like an addict waiting for my next fix. This situation helped me to understand how it must feel when using any form of debit or credit card. I felt completely distanced and removed from my money. For me, it felt like a relationship breakdown. My old friend, to which I have always relied on getting me through, was no longer taking my calls. No longer could I see instantly where my cash was, as my purse was empty of cash, but my cards were always full. For me personally, it was a completely foreign experience.
Even as a young girl, I have always been a cash person, and long before Andrew and I started Adelaide Budgeting my preference for weekly spending has always been cash. I love having cash in my purse. I know exactly where I am financially, and it prevents me from spending money mindlessly, and I know once it is gone its gone but, it will be there again next week. With access revoked from obtaining cash, it put a massive spanner in the works for me and drove a massive wedge between my own personal relationship and love of cash.
I knew I needed to take action. I needed to pivot and accept the things I cannot change and the things I can; and have the wisdom to understand the difference between the two. I got so tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed that I decided to change my mindset, afterall, we cannot control what is outside of our control, only how we react to the world around us. So, instead of seeing all the changes as a bad thing I could view them as the perfect opportunity to streamline how to run our household.
Where can I make additional savings?
Where could I shop to get a better bang for my buck?
How do I need to structure my accounts?
Rather than fight the corporates, and to keep myself and my family safe I had no choice but to change the way I had spent in the past and work towards implementing our family cash strategy to a debit card strategy. I also had to setup some new accounts to keep some monies separated. Although I found it easy to physically setup, I found the entire process emotional, and very stressful and overwhelming.
There has been a major disconnect for me; when it comes to looking at numbers on a screen versus, the amount of hard physical cash in my purse. You have no relationship with numbers on a screen. You cannot touch them, you cannot feel them, you cannot smell them. When you spend digitally, the feeling of spending feels different, like a transaction did not occur, yet your bank account balance went down, my purse remained the same. The emotional grasp had changed… and the emotional feeling of having money in my hand had felt like it just went away. Due to the disconnect, I also noticed that I started to spend a little more on groceries as the emotional link towards spending in cash versus card had allowed slippage to occur on the weekly shop.
I decided to start changing the brands that I purchased, whilst still buying Australian made. I dropped Coles, and I started shopping at Aldi. Andrew and I had fun in the kitchen making the foods that we were craving that we would normally have on our take away night. This helped to keep costs down. I became more resourceful with what we already had in the pantry and found new ways to utilise the same products for different meals, and in different ways – to freshen up the experience.
All of these little changes have added up to big differences in our household. Even though money is still stressful and anxiety provoking for me, life is starting to feel a lot better. Instead of fearing change I have found that it must be embraced and I must be as adaptable to change, and whatever life throws at me to keep moving forward. If you are feeling overwhelmed with forced changes upon you, please know this:
We get it.
We are here to help.
Sometimes change CAN be a good thing. Moving to digital spend over physical cash has been one of the biggest challenges in my life so far. When it comes to spending now, I have an empty purse, full of plastic…