Everyday Cheapskate: Shopping With Cash Is Still the Best Way to Save Money
When did you last hold a $50 bill in your hand? They look strange -- faintly colored, graphically random.
You should pick one up sometime to reacquaint yourself with something called U.S. currency. Look closely. It still reads, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private."
Here's my question: Does pumping my own gasoline at Costco constitute a debt, either public or private?
Between the moment my gas tank is full and the moment I actually pay for the gas, I owe Costco some money. I have incurred a momentary debt, and it seems to me I should be able to pay it with U.S. currency.
Just try. In fact, at Costco filling stations my only choice is to pay with plastic -- even though there are plenty of human attendants readily available.
Now, before I get all cocky and make you think I am always careful to carry the amount of cash I need for the day, let me confess that I struggle with this kind of preparedness as much as anyone. So go easy on me.
While waiting in the gas line pondering what "legal tender for all debts" really means, it dawned on me that I needed a few things from Costco -- items we purchase in larger sizes because it's cheaper that way. I made my list, which seemed to grow with each minute I waited for my turn at the gas pump.
As I pulled out my membership card to worm my way into the store, I decided to pull out my checkbook as well -- to be prepared.
No checkbook. Rats! I left it at home.
But there I was, having waded through a sea of fellow shoppers. I was not about to go all the way home to get it. A quick review revealed that I had $42.23 cash.