In addition to my current efforts to experiment with my schedule by following the sun, I am experimenting with using cash more and reducing my usage of credit or debit payment cards. This is something I started implementing immediately after writing Elizabeth Warren Illustrated How Power Corrupts Back in 2004.
I had gotten into a mindset of maxing out cash back rewards. It's a strategy with few downsides. I pay for nearly everything with a credit card which I pay off every month. After writing the Warren piece, I had done a pretty good job of convincing myself that the credit card companies don't really have our best interests at heart so I made a decision to Change the Game for myself.
I have decided that I will no longer pursue credit card rewards and I will use my credit cards as little as possible. And the end goals are two-fold:
- The payment card industry will see reduced income from transaction fees (roughly 2-3% purchase price)
- I will have a more physical sense of how quickly I am spending money.
To implement this, I am withdrawing the maximum amount the ATM permits: $500 per day. I do this about 1-2 times per month. I leave most of that at home and carry enough in my wallet so that I can purchase a cart at Target without charging it. (Target is my largest spend on average.)
There are two exceptions I permit myself: Online shopping (or anything that requires a credit card, such as Lyft) and Gasoline purchases. The online shopping is something I am cutting back on. And using credit cards for gasoline is really just about a better user experience: I believe you still have to walk inside and pre-pay for gasoline and I don't really want to have to guess how much is the right amount.
(I suppose it'd be good if I went and asked how it works next time I go fill 'er up.)
I don't expect this to put the payment card industry out of business. That's not my goal.
My goal is be more thoughtful about my choices.
My goal is to question every incentive system I participate in. (It's a key reason I don't play games like Pokemon Go.)
The question is: What habits have I formed and whom do they serve? I'd rather we chose these for ourselves a bit more often.
Photo Credit: Target Credit Card by Mike Mozard | Flickr