I have to admit: my cashless week was somewhat uneventful. When I first learned that we would be randomly selected to be on either side of this smackdown, I prayed to God to place me in the cashless group. My week was already packed enough as to have to add worrying about the amount of cash I was carrying to my to-do list. And lo and behold! God responded. I went cashless, and (almost) breezed through it.
My week started on Friday morning, as I prepped for the competition. I paid my rent (thanks for the reminder, Prof Kim Wilson!), loaded my JumboCash card, and most importantly, did laundry! I timed it so that I could do two loads of laundry before the 4:00 p.m. kick start. Unfortunately, my dryer had other plans: One cycle was not enough to dry my sheets and towels. So at exactly 4:03 p.m., I was already breaking the rules: I was forced to deposit 50 cents in my dryer. The thought of air drying my sheets crossed my mind… (I had, after all, spent the night before making fun of my cardless friends on Facebook and bragging about how easy this competition was going to be for me!). However, I ended up concluding that sleeping in cold, wet sheets was worse than losing some pride. I think.
After that, I purposely removed all the cash in my wallet to remind myself not to use it. (I tend to use cash for minor expenses such as coffee and generally like the security of knowing I carry cash “just in case”. Just in case what? …I am not sure. It might be a reflection of being born and raised in Panama, where credit/debit cards are not as universally accepted as they are here.)
Saturday morning, I am ready to take on the world with 400 rupees leftover from a recent trip to India (I figured those were harmless?), my cards, and my cell phone. I stopped by Starbucks and bought a Caramel Macchiato with my iPhone app. Check! I stopped by the gym, which had immediately charged my monthly fee to my debit card the night before. Check! But then I went to the halal store on Mass Ave to buy chicken… and although I paid with my debit card (check!), for the first time in the 1.6 years I have been there I could not tip the kind butcher… the one who always takes the time to ask me how I am doing… who always slices my chicken and my beef at my request to utter perfection… That was a total “cashless” fail. For my sanity, I had to make a mental note to double tip on my next trip.
From there on life was uneventful. Going back through my week’s expenses, I used my debit/credit cards to shop online, pay for meals, and my JumboCash Card at school. I called home, a call that would have been cut short if Skype did not have my debit card information stored to automatically reload my account with money when I surpass my credit. It also seems I ended up spending more than my weekly averages… especially on my JumboCash Card. It seems that paying with cash—my usual method of payment in school—makes me think twice before ordering a cappuccino or a snack at Mugar Café.
Thursday night, I grabbed dinner with a fellow Cardless/ Cashless Smackdown participant, who happened to suffer through the week paying with only cash. I felt bad flashing my card in front of his cardless self, so ended up paying for his meal(maybe there is a benefit to going cardless after all?). I laughed out loud when said friend texted me on Friday saying: “Hey… Is that **** cashless thing over? I need to pay my cab in NYC.” Which also happened to be the moment when I realized the competition was over… otherwise, as previously mentioned, my cashless day would have been uneventful, and I wouldn’t have noticed much of a difference.