Is there one method of payment that is preferable over the others? What about when it comes to daily purchases or bill payments? What about when shopping online or for large purchases?
The answer depends on, well, a lot of things. It depends on your personal financial situation and budget style. There are also a few bad habits you will want to be on the watch for. Here is a rundown of the good and the bad when it comes to each method of payment. In the end, it’s up to you to work out the best combination for your lifestyle.
Cash is an old-time favourite. However, our society is so card-friendly these days, it is possible to find yourself up a creek without a paddle if you don’t have a back-up plan. Add to that the complications and preventions in place due to the pandemic and cash transactions are even rarer. There is one situation that paying with cash truly comes in handy, and one main reason it can be a disaster to your financial health.
- Cash Pro | The genius aspect of paying with cash is directly linked to the envelope method of budgeting. Paying with cards can be deceiving, and one can quickly go over-budget. If, however, you put the envelope method into place, you can rest assured that you will never go over-budget, at least not accidentally. What is the envelope method?
Essentially, how it works is that you set a limited budget for your expenses. Each category of spending gets its own envelope, and you place the total amount in cash for the month in it. For example, if your budget allows $50 a month for eating out, you put $50 in an envelope marked TAKE OUT. Once you run out, you are done spending in that category. It also enables you to be more conscious of how much you spend and on what.
- Cash Con | There’s a reason the saying, “money burns a hole in one’s pocket,” is so relatable. Merely having cash on hand, in one’s pocket, in one’s wallet, purse, car console, or what have you is enough to encourage spending. How often do you look down at the change in your car and think, perfect for a coffee! And how often does that one coffee turn into a coffee and a muffin, and maybe even more? What about if you’ve ever walked past a store window and thought, don’t need but I sure would love it…and don’t I happen to have that exact amount in my pocket?!
While cash can be great for increasing your awareness of your spending, you will want to be sure that you don’t counteract the good with convenient, unnecessary purchases.
Debit transactions accounted for the majority of card transactions in 2020. This comes as no surprise, as the younger generations are not in the habit of frequenting their banks for weekly withdrawals. Debit is quick and easy; tap your card, and you’re done! Since the card is linked to your actual money, many official departments like the license bureau or tax agency will accept it as a payment method, whereas they would not take credit. Like alternative methods of payment, debit has its pros and cons. There is a genuinely positive aspect to using debit and a con that increases as technology advances.
- Debit Pro | The great thing about debit is that it is the convenience of a card payment, without the danger of using credit, aka money you don’t have. Debit works great with popular mobile banking and budget apps, as the transactions are usually instantaneous, and therefore your spending is easy to track and keep an eye on. While online transactions used to be limited to credit cards, you can now use your debit card to pay for your purchases on most sites. Just be sure to check your account regularly to avoid going into an overdraft.
- Debit Con | The con of debit really comes down to how you use it. Just because you have the money in your account doesn’t necessarily mean you should be spending it. As technology advances and we start relying more and more on pay pass, especially using our phones, the literal act of paying for something becomes more and more abstract. If you tap your phone for whatever you want but never check in on the account, you can quickly drain your account without notice.
Debit is a great tool, but like all great tools, it must be used wisely. Keep it safe and be more aware of your spending, keeping an eye on your transactions and balance.
Ah, credit cards! They are so practical when it comes to so many things. They are also potentially more dangerous in so many ways. Let’s jump right to the pros & cons because we couldn’t pick just one.
- Credit Pros | Credit cards are practical and can make life so much easier. For example,
- Paying bills on time | If you are the forgetful type, missing a bill payment can result in hefty penalties and interest. Assigning a credit card to your utilities will save you the hassle and worry of a missed payment.
- Earning points and cashback | Reward programs that come with our credit cards are genius. Before choosing a credit card, shop around for the best perks. Not only can you earn points and cash back, but you can also be privy to discounts and insurance benefits.
- Buying big-ticket items | Even if you have the money in the bank to afford a large purchase, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to use it all up. Credit cards are ideal for buying electronics, furniture, vacations, etc., leaving you a grace period to pay it back at your leisure.
- Cash flow | Not to be forgotten is the way a credit card provides a buffer for when money is tight. Using credit to pay a bill or for groceries while you await your next payday is a lifesaver. This is especially true when you live paycheck to paycheck.
- Credit Cons | The cons of a credit card are on par with the pros.
- Overspending to earn points | There is a bit of a honey trap in the rewards game. While earning points and rewards on your everyday purchases is fantastic, the danger lies in getting too wrapped up in the rewards aspect. For example, have you ever been to a store, and your items totalled $30? Then the cashier points out that if you spend $50, you can earn $5 in points? Do the math. You would be better off spending $5 of your own money when the need arises than spend $20 on something you don’t need.
- Big-ticket items you can’t afford | The idea of a credit card when it comes to large purchases creates a buffer zone in which to pay for said items. If you can’t afford something, using a credit card with a pay later mentality can be dangerous. Only use your card for something you know you can pay back by the end of the month. If it’s a larger item, calculate the monthly interest you will owe and work out a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.
- Don’t get carried away | It can be easy to rely on a credit card when money is tight. While purchases like groceries and gas are perfectly suited for credit, it’s essential to stay on top of your card transactions. A credit card should help your budget, not destroy it. The last thing you want is to get paid and wind up with nothing, or worse – in the red, after paying your card.
- Beware of the impacts | Something that can be easily dismissed or go unnoticed is the effect credit card debt, and having a credit card in general, can have on your credit score. Late payments, using more than 36% of your allowed credit limit, having multiple cards open or even credit card applications that get denied all have a strong negative effect on your credit score. While it’s not impossible, improving your credit score can be difficult once you’ve snowballed into debt.
Credit cards are a practical lifesaver with perks on the side. Ensure you keep a close eye on them, however, as you can quickly find yourself drowning in debt. 24Cash offers hard-working Canadians simple, online loans that don’t affect their credit score. When times are tough or unexpected costs catch you off guard, avoid more credit card debt by choosing a small, online loan. Contact us, and our experienced finance team can help you work out a reasonable solution that won’t hurt your credit.
In the end, it’s not so much that one method of payment is better than it is about which is better for you. Your personal spending habits, levels of self-control, and management skills will shape the best use of cash, debit and credit for your needs.