Our No-Cash Vacation

As we were unpacking from a recent vacation, I asked my husband, “How much cash do you have left?” Guess what? Between the two of us, we had almost as much cash as when we pulled out of the driveway two-weeks earlier. Yes, we used credit cards, but because we keep good records we did not overspend our budget.

Even though we routinely use credit cards for our regular spending, we take along some cash when traveling just in case. When I analyzed our vacation expenses, our cash outlay was less than one percent of our total cost.

During our trip we only used cash for miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses.

  1. Tolls
  2. Some parking
  3. Hotel tips
  4. Vending machine snacks

For everything else we used credit cards.

  1. Transportation
  2. Restaurant and fast-food meals
  3. Admission fees & recreation costs
  4. Motel and hotel lodging
  5. Miscellaneous shopping

Not only is it possible to vacation without cash, we can also manage our financial affairs online. While on the road, I would log in a few times to confirm that payments and deposits happened according to schedule. I also logged into my credit card online accounts to see current activity and monitor for suspicious transactions.

Being record-keeping fanatics, we keep track of traveling expenses on our iPad. This allows me to summarize costs at end of each day to keep us within our budget. For me, knowing an average cost per day is useful for analyzing our current trip costs and for planning future travels.

As our experience shows, it is possible to manage one’s financial affairs without using cash, whether on vacation or at home.  Recently I analyzed our 2010 spending to see how much cash we withdrew from our checking account. (I do not cash any checks we receive, but deposit all checks in our account to give me a better picture of our total money resources.)

During all of 2010, we withdrew less than 1% of our total inflow of funds in cash. It is interesting that this is identical to the percentage of cash we used on our vacation. In other words, 99% of all our financial transactions are done without using any cash at all.

Not only are we not using cash; we are also earning reward points for using credit cards. Because we pay our credit card bills on time and in full, we can enjoy an occasional treat when we redeem our points.

Our escape from winter in Wisconsin was a 99% no-cash vacation. Because we use so little cash, the money we packed for our vacation may hang around long enough to go on another trip with us.

So my question to parents is: What are your kids learning now that will help them manage 99% of their transactions without using cash? For more information check out my book, The No-Cash Allowance to find out how you can prepare your kids to manage money without using cash.

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