Money-less city living

To carry cash, or not to carry cash, that is the question when it comes to city living. This quandary put me at a HORRIBLE disadvantage at my library recently, no I didn’t have late fees, how dare you even think that *squinty eyes*, full story in a bit.

But most urban dwelling folks I know NEVER have cash, which makes splitting dinner with girlfriends a pain of 5 separate credit cards, and occasionally prompts hubby and I to glare at each other in frustration when it comes to taking a cab home from the bars.

I would be pissed at DC for not having credit card readers in their cabs like Boston, New York, and Chicago do (I’ve been to all three cities in the past 4 weeks!) but at this time I’m just too grateful that DC is now using METERS instead of the horrible zones system to calculate the fare. Yeah, that made NO sense and it’s sad that I’m so grateful for something that should have been a basic human right all along.

/dc taxi rant.

I’ve also gotten over my fear of charging really small amounts to my credit card. For some reason I got this weird sense of guilt for charging $2.02 on my card for an iced coffee, I would always try to pay cash. Lastly, when hubby and I combined our lives and finances in marriage he said he prefers we charge EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to the credit card to keep track of our expenses better – all bills, all carryout dinners, all grocery runs even if its just for milk, we even got the dogwalker to open up a paypal account. Plus we’re earning a shit-ton of miles and points! It’s actually great, VERY clear where all our money goes. We may or may not have even had a competition to see who could spend the least in a month (yes, I realize this is like the babysitter having a competition with the kids to see who could be the quietest for an hour) and I may or may not have cheated by spending cash every now and then to make my credit card bill seem lower. When I confessed to him I cheated at the end of the month turns out hubby did the exact same thing. We were destined to be together, I tell ya!

And then the reason I hide deep down inside for not carrying cash: getting mugged. This happens often enough in DC that I get really nervous if I’m carrying a lot of cash. Cards can be replaced, money can’t.

Everything is for purchase with plastic, I rarely even come across those signs that say $5 minimum purchase with credit card. After living in the city for 5 years I can’t think of any times I’ve truly been thwarted by “cash only” places. The Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan only takes cash, but I have places like that memorized so I can plan in advance. Plus they have an ATM in their store, and again, living in the city means there is an ATM of some type on every block.

Here’s where my library comes in –  *shaking fist at sky in frustration* I was trounced soundly and thoroughly last week by the WORST KIND OF CASH ONLY situation a lusty reader ever could be:

A sign like that for a lusty reader like me was like finding El Dorado, like an oasis in the middle of a desert, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, like all my brithday wishes and prayers coming true…ok enough with the hyperbole, you get what I’m saying. NOT ONLY that, but this was the first day of the sale! Look how FULL the shelves are!

And guess what, y’all?! I DIDN’T HAVE A DOLLAR TO MY NAME. Not one stingy bill, not 4 quarters, not 10 dimes, believe me I LOOKED. I shook out my giant work purse and scrounged like a beggar. Nada. Zip, Zilch. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a little.

I got to the library when I was already 45 minutes into my lunch break. I know the area around my office well and since it’s sadly 30 minutes outside DC it was too suburb-y so there was nary an ATM be found nearby.I would have had to take like a 2 hour lunch break to go out and get money, go back to the library, then walk back to work.

I made a stack of the EIGHT books I couldn’t live without and kindly asked if I could “put them on hold.” My request was kindly denied. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a little more. The librarian tried to comfort me by explaining this was their “small book sale” to clear out some inventory for their “BIG book sale later in the Fall,” but the sea of books for sale spread out before me, and the pile of 8 in my arms required instant gratification on my end and nothing else could appease me.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t crying throughout the whole conversation. I promise.

THE IRONY:

1. I’ve tried carrying “emergency $20” before, but always either a) use it for non emergencies or b) regardless what I use it for, I never replace it.

2. Now this is the worst, I would understand if wanted to squeeze out a few tears in sympathy for me. I WENT BACK THE NEXT DAY AND THE BOOK SALE WAS GONE.

Yeah, let that sink in.

GONE! GONE WITH THE WIND! Turns out not only was this the first day of the sale, but also the only one.

*quiet sobbing*

Hubby tried to comfort me by pointing out we don’t have any more shelf space, each shelf is double stacked, and my bed-side table and dresser-top are already overrun with piles of books, so I don’t really need anymore, do I?

I’m sure you’ll agree the librarian’s promise of future, bigger book sales was a much better comfort. He tries, he really tries, but he does not get what being a lusty reader really means.

And that is the story. Of the time. I FAILED the city-living question of whether to carry cash or not. BIG time.

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19 Responses

  1. This is very depressing! I can’t believe after all of that the book sale was gone the next day!! I live in a very small town and still never have any cash on me. If I carry cash, I immediately find myself driving to starbucks or anywhere where cash can easily be used ;)

    I feel your pain..there have been many times I have cursed myself for not having a dollar on me.

    I think you should go back to the emergency $20 and make a point of replacing it. Those eight books needed to be owned by you!! ;)

  2. oh Mandi, so very very VERY depressing! i guess plastic is usually easier no matter where you live these days. makes me think of everyone in the future with their “credits” in JD Robb’s In Death books.

  3. I too have tried the emergency stash of cash in the wallet, but for some reason, everytime I really needed it – poof it had mysteriously disappeared. It seems if I have cash I spend it all. I have come to rely on using the CC for everything.

    I think I would have cried too at the missed opportunity to buy those books!

    Save up for their big sale in the fall – and don’t forget your cash!

  4. Judi L: exactly, where does cash “poof” to? it never ever lasts when i have it!

  5. Hubby is really good about using mostly cash. He takes out a set amount once a week and just uses that. I’m trying to adopt his habit but I too run out of cash and am lost like you when stumbling on a great cash only sale.
    I do keep an emergency stash that I tend to forget about which is good except when it is an emergency.

  6. This is really funny! In a really really horrible way. And not even much at the bottom of the purse? And the sale was gone the next day? So sorry to hear.

    Yes, the ‘ol “no more room in the bookshelf anyways…” that would hardly comfort me, either!!!

  7. Linda: oh that sounds like another good way to keep track of spending! but why does the irony of running out of cash when we need it most seem to strike us all? not fair!

    Carolyn: if i had a dollar in change i totally had my fave book of the 8 already picked out and you bet i would have paid for it in pennies!

  8. What library??? The small one might be gone but the big one will be back and I wanna go!!

    The Northest Neighborhood Library is having one next week from 10:30-2!

  9. NorthEAST

  10. Olive: haha, i purposefully didnt put the name of the library in my post. i typed and then deleted it so i could have the sale allll to myself *evil laugh* oh ok, fine, its the Central Arlington Library all the way out at the ballston metro stop (i live in the city, but only went bc it was near work).

    Their big sale is Sept 30-Oct 3:
    http://arlingtonvalib.blogspot.com/2010/08/friends-fall-book-sale-at-central-sept.html

  11. Oh, so painful – but you did make me laugh!

    I have tried the emergency stash of cash, but yes, it somehow disappears. For that very important iced coffee. Or something like. Ahem.

    Glad to see you’ve bookmarked the BIG fall sale though ;-)

    Li

  12. That is a really, really depressing story. I’m totally bummed now.

    I never have cash, although I wish I did. You still need change for parking meters and laundry, and cash for soda machines.

    Also, I think you spend less when you have cash, because you don’t want to break up big bills. But that might just be me.

  13. I always, ALWAYS have cash with me. Sometimes, I forget that I have it but it’s always there. I don’t use any of my credit cards anymore and I hate using my check card for everything. Using cash also means I spend less. It makes me double-think my purchase.

    I am SAD for you though! I can’t believe a sale like that only lasted a DAY. I would’ve cried too. Sales like that are how I stocked up my library in high school.

  14. I HATE CASH. i hate that there are still places forcing me to use this outdated mode of payment. cards are better! easier! safer! awesomer! DO NOT MAKE ME USE CASH RAAWWRRGG SCOWL.

    i also cannot keep cash on me to save my life. i know a lot of people use cash so that they spend LESS, but i don’t understand how that works. if i have cash, i spend it. immediately. for me, using a card (even debit) makes me think twice, whereas cash flutters out of my wallet at any small whim :)

  15. It would kill me to have missed a good book sale! You have my sympathy.

  16. I was going to give the heads up on Arlington Booksale coming up but I see you already have the scoop. I go to that booksale twice a year and it is awesome! The last day is half price. It’s on my calendar.

    I also hardly every carry cash. For all the reasons you mention, plus if i have cash I seem to spend it like it’s a windfall. A coffee here and there, a magazine or whatever, and bam, somehow I’ve spent $20 that I never would have spent without cash.

  17. You are absolutely hilarious! I can’t believe you made the dog walker get a paypal account. I think soda shot out my nose at that one! I definitely feel your pain about the one day book sale. I would have been inconsolable too. I hate it when my boyfriend kindly points out how I have piles of books everywhere I turn. He better be lucky they are there to break his fall when I karate chop him for making a comment like that! I only carry my plastic on me, and I hope I don’t see a cash only book sale on the way home!

  18. […] y’all! This more than made up for my super depressing experience of being turned away from the last one I stumbled across – member that time all I even needed was 4 quarters, or 10 dimes and I cried in the library? Well […]

  19. […] HUGEST OF THE HUGE book sales this weekend. Way better, more serious, and seriously bigger than the fabulous one I posted on last Fall, yes more books than I put in that post! Here is their picture of last year’s Spring Sale! […]

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