The Cashless Exercise

Wallet  Sorry for the inside baseball title, this post is not about net exercising options or warrants.

It is about an exercise I've been going through since the beginning of the year. I've always walked around with hardly any money on me. It drives the Gotham Gal nuts, but it's who I am. I don't like carrying cash and never have.

But the past few months, I've been walking around with no cash, not a dime. I carry a host of stored value cards and credit cards on me. The picture at the top of this post is my wallet. The black cord is my daughter Emily's hairband. In that stack is a metrocard, my drivers license, a parking pass for my garage, several american express cards for various personal and business entities, a visa card, and several debit cards. That's it.

I've gone without a wallet for years and this stack of cards has been my system for the past decade. But I've always supplemented it with some cash in my pocket as well. Not anymore.

What this exercise has taught me is that cash is almost unnecessary these days. Almost is the operative word. You have to work a little bit to operate without cash. I avoid the $2 or $3 purchase. I've never been much for the $2 or $3 purchase, but it does happen. Earlier this week I stopped at Joe, The Art Of Coffee for an espresso on the way to work. I forgot that Joe is cash only. Fortunately Joe gave me the espresso and took an IOU from me. I felt bad about that and now I have to figure out how to pay him back without breaking my no cash diet.

The thing that was holding me back from going no cash was the time it took to check out with credit or debit. But in the past year or two, most merchants have moved to a no signature required on transactions less than $20. If no signature is required, a credit or debit transaction is faster than a cash transaction.

And then there's cabs. It took me until this year to give up my 25 year habit of paying cabbies in cash. I thought the credit transaction would take too long or be unreliable. My kids told me I was being foolish and to give it a try. And I was sold in the first day. Paying cabbies with a credit card is simply a superior experience. It's fast, there's no waiting for change, and tipping is easier and I find myself being more generous. All in all it is much better.

So I believe we are on the verge of a cashless society, at least in NYC. I may be on the bleeding edge of it, but if I can go cashless, so can others.

The other thing this cashless exercise has taught me is walking around with plastic cards wrapped in a hairband is silly. We need to take the next step which I am sure is the phone. I've always got my mobile phone on me unless I am home. It would be so nice if I could simply enter all those stored value cards, credit and debit cards into my phone and stop with the stack of plastic entirely.

I hope to continue this cashless exercise going, at least when I am in NYC and not traveling. I honestly think I can do that. And as for the stack of cards in my pocket, well I'd like to get rid of them too.