Got Deactivated?

Don’t let people steal your money!

In a three month span, I had over $1,000 in fraudulent charges, all to the same place, on my debit card. After replacing my card three times, I asked if there was a way to block all charges to that particular company. (Fedex… why would spend $1,000 at Fedex?!) I was told that FedEx could not be blocked from processing transactions, but that I could deactivate my card between purchases so it could not be used.

The first three times this happened, I had the same reaction as these goats! Since then I have been through aversion therapy and I am coping much better with the fraudulent world we live in. Sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying.

So, at first I was quite irritated by the process and having to log in and out of my bank every time I needed to use my card. Although I had been trying to use the envelope system, I was certainly not perfect at it. What I found was, once I deactivated my card I got so much better at carrying cash. The thought of spending five seconds logging in and another five seconds (Yes, 10 whole seconds!) to make my purchase, made me despise using my debit card. I got in a better habit of taking the money out of the bank and spending cash so I didn’t have to waste 10 whole seconds (or have the embarrassment of getting declined because I forgot to unlock it. Just trust me, it sucks!). Because I am spending cash, I am actually spending less money, too!

Protect yourself by using the G.O.A.T. method of locking your card and using cash for most everyday purchases. It’s the Greatest Of All Time!!

Here’s why:

Because… it helps you get in the habit of using cash instead of your debit card.
When you swipe your debit card (or even worse, your credit card), there is no real pain of how much money you are spending. Using cash makes you aware of how much money you are actually spending. When you have no choice but to use your cash, you think more about the purchases you are making. Over time you begin to focus more on ensuring you have the cash you need and being mindful of your purchases.

Because… it prevents the possibility of fraudulent charges being made to your card (and the unpleasant process of getting those charges reversed… trust me I know!)
With technology available today, people are able to gain access to your information in seconds. Once they get a hold of your bank information, and even your personal information, they don’t wait long to start spending. To get that money back, you need to convince the store that it was not you that spent $1,000 mailing packages to Ghana from Pennsylvania when you live in Massachusetts. It may be up to you to prove to the store you did not make those purchases and they decide about refunding the money. Some banks can also be helpful, but often you have to go through the store itself.

Because… you will feel more in control of your money, and you will stop doing math in your head to try to figure out how much money you have left in your checking account.
When you use cash for purchases, you know exactly how much you can spend, because you can physically see how much more money you have until your next paycheck when you get to go to the ATM again. When you decide ahead of time how much you are willing to spend in a certain category, you can reference that when you are faced with a spontaneous opportunity to spend money. You can quickly figure out if the purchase helps you reach your money goals. You also know that the money you left in the checking account to pay the power bill will still be there when the bill actually arrives and is due!

Have you ever been a victim of identity theft? Share your story with us. What tips do you have that might help others prevent the same thing from happening to them?

Got Envelopes?

You want to have fun AND save for retirement, but your money seems to run out before the next paycheck comes in!

You have a friend unexpectedly visit from out of town one weekend. You go out to dinner on Friday evening and spend some time shopping together on Saturday. Your friend leaves and you feel all warm and fuzzy because it was so nice to catch up. However, on Sunday afternoon, you receive a notification from your banking app that your power bill is due Tuesday and there is not enough money in your account to cover the bill. The warm and fuzzy feeling just vanished.

You can get control of situations like this if you implement a cash envelope system.

Here’s Why:

Because you will be more aware of your spending habits

When you hand over cash, you think a lot more about how much you are handing over than when you swipe a debit card. Having to count out the money and seeing what is actually left for that category makes you think harder about how much you are spending and if you actually need it.

In the beginning you may find you spend the money from a category faster than you thought, but over time you begin to become more selective about what you are purchasing. You also plan out for bigger purchases instead of splurging on items digging you further into debt.

Because the money you need for your power bill will not be mixed in with your money you want to spend on eating out and having fun.

The envelope system is a strategy for keeping you more accountable in sticking to your budget. Whether you take out your money for the month all at once or every week, you know once your envelope is empty, that you are not able to make any further purchases in that category. Thus, the money set aside for your power bill will still be safely sitting in your checking account.

When you budget make sure you are accounting for what you are actually spending because if you don’t budget enough for that envelope and you start pulling from other envelopes, it will quickly snowball (and not in a good way)!

Because it will clear your mind and increase your confidence about achieving your financial goals

It helps keep you “gazelle” focused by having the money in the envelopes. I know for myself it was a competition I had with myself to try to still have money left over in envelope at the end of the month. In the past using my debit card, even when I was on a budget, I wasn’t thinking about what was there, but just about my purchase. When I pay cash out of an envelope, I go into the store saying I have $30 and intentionally try to spend less.

Do you use envelopes? Tell us how they have helped you on the debt journey!