Which money feels more "real" to you?

Paper money or plastic money?

We’ve all read a lot of money-saving advice that says to use cash whenever possible, as it is harder to part with. Having physical, tangible dollar bills in your hand makes the money you’re spending seem real, whereas swiping a debit card makes it easier to intellectually remove yourself from the money you’re spending. Is this true for you?


Absolutely the same to me.

Mr. Athena is actually the opposite of what you say about cash being harder to spend. I keep trying to get him to get a couple hundred bucks every time he goes to the ATM, so we both have cash to last a while. He keeps coming home with $40 or $60. I ask why, and he says he doesn’t want to spend our money so fast.

I’m always like :confused: - whether it’s $200 in the bank versus $200 in my wallet has no bearing on how fast I spend it. If I want to buy something and I don’t have cash, I either pay with a credit card or go to the ATM. I certainly never say “Oh, I have no cash, so I won’t buy this thing.”

He thinks differently. I don’t think it’s true - I’ve never seen him not buy things because of a lack of cash - but I still can’t get him to get a decent amount of money from the ATM.

Your husband sounds terrific!

I want more respondents to the poll before I open my yap. And if anyone wants to explain their line of reasoning, that couldn’t hurt. <waits patiently>

I said both are equal, but if I *had *to pick one I’d say plastic money feels more real. It’s like, once it’s out of my account, it doesn’t count against my bank balance anymore, so why not spend it? Cash in my wallet feels more like play money. But it’s a very slight difference.

I always use plastic. If I see some trivial thing like a candy bar or bottle of pop and all I have is plastic, I won’t buy it.

But if I have a couple of bills I will.

IOW, if I have to drag out the card, it needs to be worth it, whereas if I have loose cash I tend to spend it.

And I can track my purchases with plastic better.

To answer the question, cash feels more real, that’s why I take the extra cash and stash it in the sock drawer.

It’s not so much about knowing how much has gone out, its’ about knowing how much is left. I can tell that much easier when I have actual cash in my wallet and can see at a glance how much is left.

I hate to part with cash. $1000 with a credit card is 4 numbers on a tiny piece of paper, but it’s a wad of 50 $20 dollar bills or 10 $100s in cash. That’s tangible.

GIRL! You know money ain’t go no home!

(In other words, none of it is real :wink: )
There’s no difference, to me. I never carry cash, but hubby always does and refuses to use plastic. He doesn’t even have an ATM card.

I voted “plastic” as my card is actually a checking/debit card tied directly to my account. It’s more “real” to me because any charges to it directly and immediately affect that balance.
Cash sitting in my wallet is pretty much destined to be spent within the next few days and has already been written off from my “real” balance.

Not all banknotes are paper: some are plastic. But I don’t suppose you want me to answer the question by saying whether the AUD or the USD is more real to me.

I voted “same” because money is money. There’s no difference in my mind if I blow $500 on milk with cash or $500 on milk with a credit card. Granted, milk isn’t quite that expensive yet, and/or the dollar isn’t quite that worthless yet.

It’s all the same to me. I never seem to have much of either.

Paper money has this nasty habit of flying out of my wallet if I have any. Plastic feels more real for me as I can account for my spending more easily and see any boneheaded moves (granted, after I have made them but it means that I gradually have gotten better about spending).

I keep a mental spread sheet of my balance in my head. Every time I use my check card I automatically deduct it from my balance. (to the nearest ten) So for me, using a card seems very real.

For me, the difference is very strong. Cash is actual money, that I guard zealously and think before spending. Credit/debit cards are just magic – show them and get whatever you want. This is why my credit cards are safely stored in a box at home, and my debit card is only used to get cash from the ATM.

This is me. In my mind, the money I have is money in the bank. If I’ve converted the money in the bank into cash, it’s already gone from the money I have. This results in my spending it kind of willy-nilly. To stop myself from doing this, I rarely have cash on hand.

I take plastic more seriously. We keep pretty careful accounts, and everything we buy with the debit card is itemized. Cash, on the other hand, is debited as generic “cash” as soon as we withdraw it, so it feels like it is already “spent”–so I am more careless with it.


I’m on a strict budget where I take out $400 cash at the beginning of every month, pay all of the bills, then whatever’s left over goes to the savings account and is not to be touched. The $400 cash is to be spent during the month. If/when the cash runs out, I don’t buy anything until the next month.

I’m not sure. I’m like others where cash will get spent if it’s in my wallet. But I also do a lot of shopping online where you can’t use cash and often will go weeks with $20 in the wallet, untouched.

Last night I was doing some reports in Quicken and saw how easy it was to see how much I’ve spent on X using my credit card. Anything that was paid for in cash is vapor as far as budget reports are concerned.

I’ve never had a debit card in my life so I don’t know what it feels like to spend that way. And checks are usually for big stuff that was pre-planned. I suspect if I used a debit card as plastic it would be much more real than a credit card.

I think what is real for me is the number in the bank account, and the number on the paycheck. Everything else is the same, just paid on different days.

Exactly the same.

Like all things, money is just a tool; investing emotion onto lifeless objects or considering it ‘real’ clouds thought. ( As when people regard their wealth as ‘deserved’. )
I, like many people, have a few very old coins that are utterly worthless to collectors: 500 or 1000 years ago they had a value to those who needed them, once those people’s time was past so were the coins.