Cash, Credit, or… Does Anyone Still Write Checks?

The other day I was in Costco buying dog food.

Heck of a deal, 24 cans for $19.99. That’s less than a dollar a can — 83¢ to be exact — for good quality dog food. This is smart shopping in action, folks.

Since it was just the one item, I didn’t bother with a cart. Lines move fast at Costco.

Or at least, they usually move fast. When you’re holding a case of dog food, a case growing heavier by the second, it slows to a grinding halt.

I look ahead to see what the issue is: a woman writing a check. (Seriously? Who writes checks anymore?!)

I stare at her in disbelief. Surprised Costco even takes the things. (Several places don’t.) Also, I’m willing to bet the woman’s handwriting is immaculate. She takes such inordinate care with it.

I shift the now 300-pound crate in my arms. Finally she’s done. Her check noted in her register and the subtraction completed (good Lord!). The woman ahead of me checks out quickly. She uses her debit card. Zip, zip, she’s done.

My turn.

The clerk thanks me for my patience. I ask her how often she gets checks.

“Not often. Maybe two or three a month.”

She scans the case, tells me the total. I hand her a couple bills. “Oh, I might have change.”

She waits as I search for coins.

Only later did it occur to me how I slowed down the line nearly as much as the check woman.

It was about 17 years ago, almost to the day, that Husband and I switched to using cash for almost all of our daily transactions. We had recently moved to Phoenix, a local radio station played the Dave Ramsey show — maybe you’ve heard of it? — we decided to give his envelope system a try and was surprised how well it worked for us. We’ve been doing it ever since.

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However — lest you fear this is turning into a Dave Ramsey infomercial — I’m not saying it’s for everyone or even that it’s the smartest way to handle your money. I’ve heard many with different opinions.

Ryan, my cashier at Target, said he never uses cash. Not even for a candy bar. He said this after I declined his offer for a Target Red Card (5% off all purchases!).

“I never have to worry about cash getting stolen, ya know?” he said, as he took my money. “If you don’t carry it, they can’t take it.”

I could have pointed out that if someone takes my cash, they only have my cash. If someone takes his credit or debit card, theoretically, they could empty his account or at least make his life hellish for a little while.

Even so, Ryan the Target Cashier is not the only advocate for a cash-free society. There are many saying we’re headed there, it’s only a matter of time. Some countries, most notably Sweden, are nearly cashless now. Safety is the biggest advantage cited, as well as convenience and, yes, speed. But not everyone is convinced it’s the way to go, and since Americans do love their privacy, it’s unlikely I’ll have to switch to digital currency terribly soon.

Though there is that Bitcoin thing. (Does anyone understand how that works? Truly?)

The thing is, I like cash. I like putting all the bills in my wallet, in order, heads up of course. I like adding up purchases in my head as I’m shopping and taking a guess at the total before the clerk hits the button — I love it when I’m super close, like within a few cents, and am already handing the amount to the cashier.

Oh, the power of Math.

Even so, I will say that while using cash has been instrumental in helping us stick to a budget, for increasing our savings nothing has worked better than depositing everything into a savings account first, and moving only what we need for monthly expenses into a checking account. Also, money is moved automatically into a long-term savings account. All deposits and transfers done electronically, most without us doing a thing. Works like a charm.

So I understand people’s love of digital transactions. I expect they might feel a little less tied to their money, maybe a little more secure with their purchases. And if Ryan the Target Cashier thinks he does a fine job staying on budget, who am I to say otherwise? Nevertheless, for groceries and what-have-you, I’m sticking to cash only, please.

I will say this however: From here on out, I’ll knock it off with making exact change. That is my pledge to you, impatient Costco customer behind me.

Photo of billfold by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
Featured photo my own (Yes, that’s my money)
(No, you can’t have it)

Holiday Traditions

“Let’s do our Family Shopping Trip this weekend,” Son says.
“But no one needs to buy anything,” I point out. “We do everything online.”
“But it’s Tradition!”

You gotta watch out for the ol’ Tradition trap. It’ll get ya every time. Continue reading “Holiday Traditions”

I Found Her: The Slowest Cashier in Cashier History

woman with grocery cartGot a lot of shopping to do this holiday season? Unless you’re doing everything online, you might have to battle heavy traffic and crowded stores. I can’t help you much there. But if you fear getting stuck in line with the slowest cashier in existence, let me put your mind at ease.

Turns out the slowest cashier — and this is counting the ones who carved receipts on stone tablets — works at the Target near my house. Her name is Lillian.

Let me take you back to the day I first met Lillian. It was way back when we were still experiencing high temperatures here in Phoenix.
You know. A week ago. Continue reading “I Found Her: The Slowest Cashier in Cashier History”

I Feel it in My Soul, It’s Meant to Be…

Wedding picture
August 9, 1985

Thirty-one years is worthy of a celebration, right?

Funny though, what counts as a celebration when you’re young isn’t quite as enticing when you’re… not so young.

We decided – five days after the event, because we were gosh-darn busy on the actual day – to go to Black Angus. Husband had a coupon for a free steak dinner, on account of his birthday being just a few days ago. Even better, the restaurant was by a mall, which meant we could gain some extra steps for the ol’ Fitbit.

Yep. We’re just a couple of wild ones. Continue reading “I Feel it in My Soul, It’s Meant to Be…”

Say What?

Here’s something you may not know about me: I love thrift stores. If I see one, I gotta stop. This includes on vacations.

Which is why I now know Oregon has some mighty nice thrift stores. Even their Goodwill stores border on classy. At one, the outside sign said, “Goodwill Boutique.”

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Navy blue womens sleeveless topAnyway, I just wanted to tell you about a sleeveless top I found, not in a thrift store but in a consignment shop. Yes, it was a good deal and it looks lovely on me, but what I really want to show you is its tag.

The top was made in Italy and was new, by which I mean it still had its original store tags.  Everything, including care instructions, is in Italian. But one tag included an English translation, and I’m guessing whoever wrote it relied on Google translator.

See for yourself:clothing tags from item made in Italy

“This is strands state decorated of stone crystal product to SWAROVSKI”

(Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?)

So yeah, the little shiny things down the front are Swarovski crystals. Pretty little top for $15, don’t you think?

It brought to mind another hot deal I came upon a few years back. It was for an espresso maker, also made in Italy, also suffering slightly in translation. My favorite part from the instructions:

“Screw strongly the top of the coffeepot on the little tank but don’t prize the handle.”

Words to live by.

Idea!

I bet if we compiled our favorite mistranslations, we’d have the makings of a great book. Something worthy to be read in bathrooms everywhere.

Think about it, lovely readers. And remember — screw strongly. 😉

Parking Lots, Lost Cars, and You

We all need certain people in our lives, right? Good friends, people we can be ourselves with, people we can have deep conversations with — people like that there.

I need an additional person: someone who will wander aimlessly in a parking lot with me looking for a lost car and not wig out. Fortunately, I have Daughter.

It is a sad fact that losing a car in a parking lot is not difficult for me. Typically my mind is on far more important matters than something as trivial as where I parked my car. Such as something I heard on the radio two weeks ago, an idea I have for an award winning play, or the classmate of mine from the sixth grade who had the most unusual body odor and seriously, what would cause a person to smell like the elephant pen at the zoo?

Geez, he was weird. What are the chances he had a pet elephant?

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the lost car. So anyway, done with our shopping, Daughter and I walk out from the shopping centerdesert ridge — I better give you a picture because this is not an ordinary shopping mall. This is Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, which has a big, sprawling, open plan. Shops and restaurants are everywhere and the parking lot was designed by an insane person. (I think this has been proven. I’m sure it has.)

We stare out over the sea of vehicles, I turn to her and ask, “Do you remember where we parked?” She turns to me, smiles, and says, “No idea. You?” Continue reading “Parking Lots, Lost Cars, and You”

A Guide to Women’s Sleepwear, Winter Edition

As I was out and about this last weekend enjoying enduring the holiday shopping madness, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of winter sleepwear available to women. bed

The reason I couldn’t help noticing is that Husband has an uncanny knack for parking by entrances leading straight into lingerie departments. It’s like some sort of weird psychic ability of his to know precisely where each store locates their underwear. I guess you could say it’s his superpower.

An amazing, yet completely unhelpful, superpower.

Anyway, I noticed that each article of sleepwear — regardless of its color or size — gave a very clear message. Or at least I thought the message was clear.

Don’t believe me? Here … let me show you: Continue reading “A Guide to Women’s Sleepwear, Winter Edition”

Shoe Shopping for the Stylish Ninja Wannabe

Does anyone else remember the days when shoe salespeople would hover over you, ask what you wanted, measure your feet, go to the back of the store to retrieve the box, and then actually put the shoes on your feet? Actually touching your feet?!

Embed from Getty Images

Wow. Sure glad those hellish days are over. Aren’t you?

No doubt the shoe salespeople are happy too. In fact, I think the Shoe Sellers Union worked tirelessly trying to prevent salespeople from ever having to touch feet again. And I, for one, love them for it.

What I don’t love, however, is how many shoe stores are completely carpeted. I mean, what’s up with that? That is just so, so wrong! How the heck can someone choose a pair of shoes — a seriously important endeavor — in a completely carpeted store? It’s impossible, I say!

I mean, oh sure, you can judge a shoe by its looks, you can check its fit, you can even jump up and down if need be, but you can’t check its sound. And it is the sound of a shoe that is of the utmost importance. Am I right?

Tell me, have you ever bought a pair of shoes only to discover they squeaked? Or squished? Or made an undefinable floopy sound?

What I want — what I dream of — are shoes that are utterly quiet … silent as the air … nary a whisper or breath of sound … as inaudible as the most inaudible thing you’ve never heard.

You know. Like, really, really quiet.

Continue reading “Shoe Shopping for the Stylish Ninja Wannabe”