Underrated: Cash

I don't understand why cash has become such a bad thing. After dining with some friends a few nights back, they were amazed that I had enough cash on me to cover a $50 meal. I was the one amazed shortly thereafter, when the other three couples divulged that none of them had more than ten dollars on them. Really? What the hell is so bad about cash?

I'm not a total old curmudgeon, I do have a credit card. I know how handy it can be, especially if you're in a position where you have to expense things for your place of employment. With a company credit card, I no longer have to spend time saving receipts or filling out expense reports. Just swipe the card, sign for it, and answer my boss's questions only if they take the time to ask.

An incident that happened at a convenient store last week really got me thinking of how underrated cash is. I stopped in for my standard breakfast of a ninety-nine cent bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Diet Dr. Pepper. At 7am, the store only had one clerk working, and a long line had quickly formed. The source of the problem turned out to be a guy buying the daily paper with a debit card. Really? You're going to use a debit card for a one dollar purchase? Predictably, the machine wouldn't read his card, and the ever-growing line of patrons grew longer and more impatient with each swipe. I kind of felt bad for the guy initially, until I realized that I was now running late for work. Murmurs of "Jesus Christ" and "what the fuck?" were heard throughout the store. The gal behind the counter was not happy either. Finally, after a few minutes, the card went through, and the line sped by as people paid cash. I couldn't help but thinking how totally OPPOSITE this experience was from the Visa commercial. You know, the one where everything is going along so harmoniously in the cafeteria until someone tried to pay with cash?

Cash is great. You actually see how much money you have. A credit card can be so distant. Yeah, that steak and lobster dinner is $45, but I can just put it on the card. Spending is easier on the credit card. It's no secret. Just look at all of the people who inexplicably go into ungodly depths of credit card debt. I don't even know how you'd go about that. If I have $500 in my savings account, I'm not going to buy a $3,000 guitar. If you're making payments on a credit card, game over, man. If this recession has taught us anything, you shouldn't outspend your means.

Just look at all of the advantages of cash:

- an impromptu game of horseshoes breaks out, and the stakes are $1 per game.
- you head to a bachelor party and inevitably go to a Gentleman's Club. Where are you going to swipe the card? Well, where can you swipe a card that WON'T get you beaten and kicked out?
- a stack of plastic isn't as cool as a pimp roll.
- you've checked into a hotel and you need to tip the bellhop.
- Bribery via credit card = not possible.
- you're watching the Bears play and you bet one dollar that Rasheed Davis will drop at least two passes.
- you're in a crowded bar and you want a beer. Paying in cash allows you to avoid being That Guy who pays for one beer with a credit card.
- if paying in cash is out of style, you're automatically part of the cool counterculture.
- Cash Discounts. You'd be surprised how many places will do it if you ask.

And there you have it. Cash in hand allows you to see better just how much you're spending. $2 here, $6 there, $5 there, on a credit/debit card, it adds up fast, sometimes so fast that it's too late by the time you look at your statement. When cash is gone, it's gone. And one last comment on cash - how uncool would the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, have been if he didn't have cash? The Million Dollar Man with a single credit card? Boo! Shit, how lame would The Million Dollar Dream finishing move had been if he didn't have cash to shove down unconscious opponent's throats?

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