what if our debit cards had limited uses

What If Our Debit Cards Had Limited Uses?

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I’ve seen quite a few articles floating around on the internet centered on “No Spend Days/Weeks/Months” where someone commits to not spending any money for a set period of time. Then, there is the mantra that it is easier to control your spending when you carry cash instead of plastic. Both of these lead me to wonder what it would be like if we could only use our debit cards a limited amount of times per month.

I look back to my college days where I had a dining hall meal plan. The way our plans were structured, we had x amount of points per semester to use and anything left over became forfeit. I once visited friends at another school and saw that they, instead, had a system that granted them a specific amount of “swipes” per semester. Their cafeteria was buffet style and they could get as much or as little as they wanted as long as they swiped in at the entrance.

So, what if this is how life were in general? That aside from auto-paying your bills, you could only use your cards a limited number of times over a set time period (say a month). What if it were only 5 times? 10 times?

I’d imagine that most of us would use that first swipe to “cheat the system” and withdraw a large load of cash. However, I’d think sticker shock would prevent a lot of us from wanting to take out too much cash. I would imagine that a withdrawal of $1000+ in $20-bills would make quite a few people nervous, especially if they are prone to losing things.

Okay, so after the cash withdrawal of however much, you have 4 uses left (I went with the 5-time limit scenario). Well now, that plastic card becomes a bit more tricky to use. Do you walk into the gas station and pay the exact amount or do you use your card outside at the terminal? Do you break a twenty to pay for lunch, use one of your swipes, or perhaps decide to pack lunch so you don’t have to decide at all?

How would you plan your shopping trips? Perhaps you would use the card for your big regulars like groceries and gas, but then use your cash for food purchases? What about nightlife? Would it be cash or card at the bar?

I think the whole notion would change how we view spending. Here, you are combining the visual mind hack of carrying cash with putting physical limits on how many times you can use your debit card (or credit card). This would create mental barriers on what we decide to spend money on.

The more that I think about it, the more I think that this would be a good thing for the spendaholics out there. Forced budgeting if you will.

I plan on challenging myself at some point in this year (likely June) and blogging about the experience. I don’t spend a lot of money on things truthfully, but I do know I tend to spend often so this should definitely be an experience.

I’m dubbing this the #LimitedSwipeChallenge (and hoping this idea has not already been laid out anywhere else lol). Let me know in the comments below if you’d also like to try this!

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Prince is a full-time pharmacist, part-time blogger that enjoys a lot of the simple things in life. Definitely a natural minimalist and that's that.

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