"In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women."
— Tony Montana, "Scarface"
Cash is King
About a month ago, I was browsing through one of our many local gun shops with a friend who needed to buy a new holster. Now, before we get into a debate about gun control, I agree with certain points on both sides of the argument. But, guess what? Guns are cool; they make loud noises and fire projectiles. They're like tiny fireworks encased in metal that you can hold. I'm sure there's some type of responsibility that comes along with gun ownership, but who really knows? I'll get around to looking that up someday.
Any way. "Cash is king around here," I heard the employee of Shooters say to a customer at the counter in reference to providing a 20% discount on a gun if purchased in cash. And he's right, cash is still king. The benefits of carrying around some green-backs ultimately outweigh the disadvantages. Carrying cash will usually allow you to haggle some good deals, especially if dealing directly with the seller of an item, or even some small, local business — it never hurts to ask. Even certain gas stations along the highway advertise that they offer a price for people paying in cash versus paying with credit. Just determine how much cash you feel comfortable walking around with and stash it away in your wallet, but not so much that you turn into George Constanza.
#1: Balances and Spending
Checking my bank account balance online was part of the same morning ritual I followed every day of the week. With the sudden inability to login because of this challenge, I had to be creative. Over the last few weeks, I stopped by the ATM a few times and even called their customer service line to check the account balance. I quickly realized the easiest way to keep track of my money was to physically carry the bills in my wallet. At any given time the balance in which I have left to spend is simply calculated by how much is left in my wallet. 1-2-Done. No trips to the ATM, no phone calls.
Also, by carrying cash, you have an automatic spending control. Once your cash is gone, it’s gone so you're more apt to thoroughly consider each purchases and ask yourself if you really need a second copy of the sixth season of "Entourage" before buying (By the way, the answer is, "Yes!"). Telling some people to quit spending money is like telling L.L. Cool J to keep his shirt on; sure, they'll oblige for a while, but eventually that shirt is coming off. This system forces you to stop spending. Furthermore, when I have large denominations of currency in my possession — namely $50s or $100s — I refuse to break them. Four, five, six days may pass before they're used and exchanged for lesser bills usually reserved for commoners. This also helps to curb irresponsible spending habits.
#2: Change = Savings
I hate coins. Just about everything about them. They're disgusting bacteria-ridden disks of metallic shit that miserably fail to facilitate any commerce. They weigh down your pockets, jingle in the cup holder while driving, and causes numismedica. The worst offender is the penny, quite possibly the dumbest piece of currency in the world today. Oh sure, the penny used to be very useful a hundred years ago. Back then you could buy a large piece of candy for a penny, a piece of fruit, a postage stamp, and probably even a blowjob if you looked hard enough. But in today's terms, a penny by itself is pretty useless... But MANY pennies are not. A good saving method when you use cash all the time is to dump that change each day into a jar at the end of the day. I have a giant Budweiser bottle change bank sitting in my office holding over $65 dollars in quarters (how I know that will be revealed in a later post) right now. That's not even counting the other denominations.
#3: Minimum Purchases
There is a small deli downstairs from where I work and they have instituted a $5 minimum charge for credit card purchases. While I completely understand the need to do this is because of the processing fees associated with each transaction, it is quite annoying to have to add four packs of gum to an original order of a 20-ounce Diet Coke just to use a credit card. Not even Violet Beauregarde should have that much gum. Carrying cash allows you to complete the transaction without all the nonessentials.
#4: Splitting Bills
Eating out and splitting the bill with friends seems like it would be a menial task that any waiter or waitress with an education beyond 3rd grade should be able to accomplish. Some restaurants are more than happy to split the bill, but that's not always the case. Prior to visiting Baltimore and Washington DC on the northeast book tour, Hoser had warned me that restaurants just don't split the checks up there like they do in Florida; some even flat out refuse. "Bull shit!" I exclaimed. But he was right. We received more dirty looks and snide remarks than a homeless guy taking a shit on the subway. The whole ordeal was much easier when we both had cash to contribute instead.
Along these lines, I hate when I'm about to run out to lunch and a co-worker wants to "pitch in." This usually means they'll hand over a credit card when I'm paying with a credit card, causing two separate transactions at the register. I refuse to get stuck with the whole cost knowing the other person will promise to reimburse later on, but will always forget. The best case scenario is when one or both have cash to pitch in, making the whole situation easier for everyone.
#5: Cash Only
I always thought Waffle House was the last bastion of the cash-only mantra until they reneged on that policy after 50 years. Although there aren’t too many of these types of places left, some establishments still do maintain a strict "CASH ONLY" policy, such as hole-in-the-wall bars, some restaurants, and escort services. Again, this mostly has to do with transaction fees cutting into the profits of the business. Carry cash, because at the end of the night, you don't want to be caught with your pants down — unless you're at the escort service.
There are two things you should know about me: 1) I love money, but 2) I hate waiting. When it comes to waiting in line in a parking lot of one our favorite restaurants to find a vacant spot, I'll immediately cut everyone off and head towards valet. I don't mind paying if the end result is cutting of the tightwad outside so I can start shoveling food into my face before he even locate a parking spot.
Furthermore, servers and waiters prefer cash tips in order pocket the income and not have to worry about claiming them for tax purposes. Is it right to give someone the opportunity for unreported income? Hey, that's between them and the government. The aforementioned professions are only two out of hundreds that are common to cash tips. Check out The Ultimate Tip guide for all the workers you need to tip throughout your life. I consider myself a very generous tipper for all situations, but just remember the amount is totally contingent on the quality of service received.
#7: Impromptu Gambling
Gambling is my vice; I love it. Easy money in some cases, but you've got to bring the cash to play. Most state lottery forbid you to use credit and debit cards to purchase lottery tickets. Look, I know I'm not going to win the lottery and actually have a better chance of being hit by lightening on the same day a shark bit me after having sex with Scarlett Johansson on a beach in Tahiti, so when I purchase a ticket, I know I'm only buying into the fantasy — much like having sex with Scarlett Johansson on a beach in Tahiti — of the "what-ifs." Prop bets, parlay bets, straight bet, etc. all require cold, hard cash. You should never hear, "Hey I bet you $20 you won't shit into a tube sock and throw it 30 yards to hit that guy over there in the face... Nice job, I can't believe you did that! By the way, do you have Square so I can pay you?"
BONUS REASON: Strippers Don't Have Credit Card Machines on Stage