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We Paid Cash! :: HDTV

We paid cash!
In November 2007, our family began our journey. The very first thing we learned was to pay for everything in cash.

This was, of course, a new way of thinking. After all, we had our debit card, which was “essentially” cash, right? Well, after much praying and hard work, we have stopped using credit, rarely use our debit card and now believe that Cash is King!

We had the chance to put this mantra to the absolute test. We wondered if paying with cash would help us not end up with a case of buyer’s remorse, as we had felt so many times in years past when making purchases.

One Saturday morning in July, 2008, we awoke to learn our television had been struck by lightning the night before. Now, we could have run out and purchased a new one on a credit card — if we owned a credit card, that is! We didn’t, so we marched down the steps to our basement and carried up a replacement television — a 14-year-old, 25″ tube TV.

We then finished working our way out of debt. Afterwards, we began to save for that new HDTV.

How We Saved

We had budgeted a dollar amount for our groceries each pay period. At the end of that two weeks, we would take the money left over and put into our TV fund. Using coupons and working deals usually meant at least 30% went into savings.

We had a garage sale and added our proceeds to our stash. Imagine our surprise when, in less than six months, we had reached our goal of having enough cash to purchase not only our television, but also a new TV stand!

Then came the fun part — going shopping! We knew exactly which television and stand we wanted. We selected both our TV and stand and were armed and ready ask for a reduced price.

We asked the salesman what they could do since we were paying in cash and he said he’d have to check with his manager. Imagine our surprise when he walked up and offered us what we were hoping for — a 5% discount for paying with cash.

What We Learned

With great pride, we handed over our cash. It felt so good. We felt empowered, like we had done something that few had done before.

Sure, it would have been simple enough to just write a check or put the purchase on a credit card (and pay it off right away) but, I had never in my adult life made a purchase of this magnitude with cold, hard cash.

We now know that it is possible to purchase anything with cash. Dedication, hard work and the desire to remain debt free have kept us on track. And our mantra rings true – CASH IS KING!

Penny Pinchin' MomTracie has helped her family eradicate over $37,000 in debt in 27 months. She shares her money saving tips, coupons and deals daily at .  She and her husband live in Missouri with their 3 children, ages 22 months – 5 years.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? .

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38 Comments

  • Autumn says:

    Great story and thank you for sharing this. We too need a new tv and just yesterday spoke of this same scenario using what I’ve learned after reading Dave Ramsey. Funny how I will be thinking of something and then the same day or next day we read a post like this on MSM.

  • says:

    great story! thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Ashly says:

    I am truly inspired by this story for sure! My husband and I are expecting our 4th child in less than 10 weeks. We have had all our bills go up by at least $30-$50/month when the new year hit! We have a maxed out credit card, no savings, and a financed set of furniture. Needless to say I have been seriously stressed out about that! So after reading this and being gently reminded of stuff we learned over two years ago about being debt free I think I am going to talk to my husband and get back on track again! Thank you for sharing!

  • says:

    Wow! It has to be fate that brought me to this post today. I have been without a dishwasher and working stove for almost six months. They were purchased brand new with our house three years ago and have both died.I am slowly saving up. We asked for gift cards for Christmas and keep trying to put a few extra dollars in the fund to purchase new ones. I have been using a hot plate to cook with and hand washing dishes. In my weak moments, I decide that I can use credit to get these things. I just had a conversation with my husband about it this morning and almost decided to charge it. After reading this, I realize that it is possible to get there…with patience. Thanks for saving me today. Besides, I think my hubby looks mighty handsome washing dishes 🙂

    • Deana says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks a “dishwashing man” is somehow hotter than one sitting on the couch with a pillow behind his neck and a iced tea in his hand…lol

    • Susan says:

      Tara, yikes, you’re stove and dishwasher lasted only 3 months? That’s terrible. Are they still under a manufacturer’s warranty of some sort? (I’m guessing no or you would have repaired/replaced them already).

      My refrigerator died over a month ago. I paid $150 for a service call only to given an estimate of $450 for a part and labor to repair it. I decided to just replace it, and I’ll do so when I get my tax refund.

      In the meantime, we’ve been getting by just fine with a cooler in the garage. Were it July, however, I might have been more tempted to get the fridge sooner, but fortunately for me it’s plenty cold here, and I haven’t even needed to use ice.

      It just goes to show that even though modern appliances seem like absolute necessities, they really aren’t. Convenient, yes, but necessary, no. Dishes can be washed by hand. Portable cooktops work. Heck, a camp stove would work. Coolers work. Unless you live in a really remote location, laudromats are available and are pretty darn cheap.

      No one “needs” a TV. We don’t have cable, and ever since the big digital switch way back when, we’ve been using only a converter box and indoor antennae. Sometimes we get local TV reception, sometimes not. We’ve adjusted to where we really don’t even try to get reception and we don’t miss it at all. Early on we did, but not now. It’s nice to not have the TV on all the time, we watch movies when we want to or TV via the internet. If we really want to watch Boise State football (my alumni — big blue!), we go to friends’ houses, who are happy to let us join them in front of their big screen. 🙂

      That said, kudos to Tracie for their cash-only success. I’m enjoying this series, and I particularly like the entries like this one, where families have been successful in changing their spending habits and paying cash for smaller purchases. I mean, paying cash for a house is great, but so out of reach for most of us. Success stories like this one are more realistic and therefore inspiring, at least for me.

    • Patti says:

      Keep up the good work!! You can pretend you are doing a kitchen remodel. When we redid ours, we went without appliances for a long time. It is amazing how creative you can be if you need to be. Have you got a crock pot? a microwave? If not, you usually can pick those up for under $10 at a yard sale or thrift store. Go online and look for the instruction books… we learned to make lots of foods in our small appliances just by reading the booklet! And back in college we made grilled cheese sandwiches with our irons and about anything in our popcorn poppers. You’ll be so glad when you don’t have credit charges to pay.

  • says:

    Great story, Tracie!!

    If only more newlywed couples could have this mindset when they start out marriage. I know Ryan and I would’ve been saved tons of grief if we would’ve started marriage with this mindset instead of 7 years after we got married.

    • says:

      I hear ya Rachel. For us it was 25 years after we were married. Better late then never I say. Now I get to teach my young adult children how to do it the right way. With cash and only cash!

      Great story Tracie!

    • Deana says:

      Absolutely! We caught on after 12 years of marriage…now it’s all this time later and trying to convince our oldest son is an up and down battle 🙁 I think he’s starting to catch on, though…}}hope}}

    • Kara says:

      I agree!!! I grew up w/ my parents using cards to pay for everything. We are slowly digging ourselves out of the $30,000+ hole we dug ourselves. My husband is slowly catching on. But it is worth it. We have an almost 2yr old, so our prayer is that we can teach him. We just hit our 4yr mark yesterday.

  • says:

    Great story! 🙂 Isn’t spending cash liberating!?!? Way to go!

  • Shannon says:

    Congratulations!

  • Julie says:

    I’m curious as to what stores will give you a discount when paying with cash. I’ve never thought to ask and would love to hear which stores people have been able to get a discount when paying cash!

    • Lynn says:

      Julie, I was surprised by this a bit as well, but apparently many stores have some latitude on deals like this. My mother went to buy a TV (after much much research) at a large chain electronics store and found another man (not someone she knew) looking at the same TV. He asked if she was buying it, she said yes, etc…when a salesperson came over the man turned to him and said “What will you do for us if we both buy one of these TVs right now?” Apparently he took $50 off each TV and then took another $25 off the bracket for wall mounting!! I guess now days all stores are feeling it and I make sure to ask, all they can do is say no!

  • says:

    Did you know you can get free HD with an antenna? We have an antenna on the top of our house that we plug into our HD Tivo and we get free HDTV.

  • Anna says:

    Question for Crystal, (or anyone else who uses a cash/envelope system)

    How do you work the practical aspect of paying for everything with cash? As an example, I’m at Walmart, buying groceries, with the grocery cash envelope along, and I buy a new shirt cause it was on a great sale. I paid for it with my “grocery” money…

    Now, I usually get home, check my receipt for my clothing item and take the cash from the “clothes” envelope and add to the “grocery” one.

    However, this seems to get complex sometimes. (There’s only a $50 in the clothes envelope, and I only needed to transfer $5…. make change if it’s possible… etc.) I’m just curious how you keep track of all your envelopes, and if you typically carry all of them with you at all times when you’re shopping.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Sally and Family says:

      I love this question and hope you get a reply.

    • Missi says:

      I’m fairly new to the envelope system, but I thought I would share what works for me! I view my budget and envelope system more as a tool to reach my goals and not so much as a rule.

      A few of our envelopes are household/groceries, entertainment/eating out and clothing. If I’m grocery shopping and I see a shirt that I want I either a) make a separate purchase and use my clothing envelope (if I have it with me), b) see if it fits within my household/groceries budget (if I don’t have my clothing envelope with me or if I’ve already used that amount), or c) I don’t purchase it (maybe I run back to the store later if its that important to me and I can afford it).

      I hope it’s helpful to see how someone else does it!

    • says:

      I love this question too! And I appreciate Missi’s response below, and look forward to hear how others handle it.
      So far, I’ve just been jotting down notes on the envelope to remind me to ‘pay it back’ from the other envelope. But it does get messy and complicated, and I end up rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10 dollar mark. This confused on in regards to how much I’m really spending out of each budget area, so I started tracking it on a spread sheet that really breaks it down into small groups. I set my receipts all in the same place, and tackle it every couple of days. I just need a calculator for the tax part!

    • jessica says:

      I keep all my envelops with me. I made my own envelop wallet similar to the dave ramsey one using scrapbook paper and a wallet with a checkbook holder.

      Another option is to get smaller bills for each envelop. For example, I have $90 in my gas envelope. It takes $30 to fill my tank so I get 3- $20’s and 3-$10’s so I don’t have to worry about change.

      • Lynn says:

        I love your idea about using the scrapbook paper and the wallet with checkbook holder (since I never carry a checkbook anymore) – can you explain a bit how it looks/works.

        I am way too “frugal” to buy the Dave Ramsey version!!

    • says:

      I just do a separate transaction for the stuff in the other envelope. It saves a lot of stress of figuring all the amounts out later.

      That said, we have started using Crown Financial’s mvelopes program which links up to our debit/credit cards and I love it!! Every transaction that goes through the debit card shows up and you have to assign it to an online envelope. The accountability is still there and you can split up your transactions into as many envelopes as you want. It’s honestly a lot harder to use my debit card than cash because I know those transactions will pop up and force me to decide where the money is coming from. Give it a try!

    • LK says:

      If you happen to use Pear Budget like I do, they have a little card you can print out before you go shopping that lists what’s left that month for your budget categories. Not the same as carrying your envelopes all at once wherever you go, but it helps me to keep track of what’s still available. And, if you have a smartphone, you can access a mobile version of it and keep track real-time wherever you are. 🙂 Just a thought for those of you who aren’t comfortable carrying all that cash around all the time. I come home and reconcile the envelopes.

  • says:

    Thank you for the post and the inspiration. My husband and I are on Baby Step 2. I’ve gotten my husband on board with playing the “match the coupon with sales price” for our groceries. While neither of us loves grocery shopping, we now love looking at how much we saved at the bottom of our receipts! We have yet to graduate to cash only, I know Dave Ramsey would be slapping my hand, but that is next month’s goal. Only a few more days to go!

    Keep up the great work. As they say, patience is a virtue. Also you won’t be looking at the TV and stand five years from now and wishing you had not made the purchase, but will instead feel the pride of buying it with cash and getting a great price!

  • jan says:

    Also do you really carry that kind of cash around? I would be very afraid to carry more than $60 on me at any time.

  • Suzanne says:

    I may be alone here, but I’d rather carry my charge card than cash. I have come to that conclusion after having my wallet stolen-all the cash and everything else. Credit cards can be canceled, but cash can’t be retrieved.

    Life got hectic with a baby and potty training toddler, and one day in the grocery, the toddler had to go potty. I hung my backpack on the door hook and then eventually walked off without it.

    Anyway, for me, someone who has never carried any debt-other than a mortgage- I am not tempted to misuse a credit card. We pay it off every month. And I feel more comfortable not carrying around a lot of cash.

  • says:

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned is that if you have the cash, you should still pay with a credit card and then pay it off right away. Why? Because credit cards offer consumers protection that cash cannot. If you have an issue with the product or the store, the credit card company can help. A lot of cards also extend your manufacturer’s warranty. American Express is great for this and if have the regular old Amex card, it’s actually a charge card that you pay off every month and as a consumer, you are better protected if you use it. I use my credit cards and then just deduct the amount out of my account right away so I can’t get in trouble – almost as if I had written a check. Then when the bill comes, I have the money to pay it off.

    • Crystal says:

      We personally have chosen to pay cash for everything. We’re willing to take the risk (it is actually very minimal if you research it out extensively) than be tempted to buy things with other people’s money. 🙂

      I know some people disagree with this, but it’s what we feel is the best course of action. It’s basically impossible to be overextended when you pay with cash. When the money’s gone, the money’s gone and you plain just can’t spend anymore.

      And I think most people would agree that many people would not be in the bad financial situations they are today if they had committed to pay cash instead of swiping their credit card. It encourages self-discipline like credit cards never can! Plus, you never have to worry about paying off a bill if unexpected expenses come up. 🙂

      Please know that I am not saying that all people who use credit cards are irresponsible, but I am saying that, in most cases, it is easier to overextend yourself, buy things you really can’t afford and be less responsible when you use a credit card vs. paying out of pocket. Which is why this series exists — to encourage people to be counter-cultural and experience the incredible joys of financial freedom!

      • says:

        I’m not disagreeing with you at all. However, I do feel that for large purchases, you should save up the cash, use your credit card and then pay it off right away as it gives you a consumer protection you can’t get with cash. However, if you’re someone who is does not have the self-discipline that it takes to not charge anything else, then I guess you should use cash. I actually prefer the simple cash/envelope system because you know exactly how much you have for bills and how much is left. I know some will disagree with me, but I still think that for large purchases, especially electronics, if you have the self discipline, you should use credit. In my line of work, I have to be extremely disciplined as both my husband and myself never know how much money we will be earning from week to week. It has taken many years to get a system that works for us, but it also takes a lot of self discipline because every week and every month is completely different.

        • Crystal says:

          We usually use our debit card for large purchases and that gives the same protection as a credit card, from what we’ve researched. We just prefer to always use our own money — instead of other people’s — as a matter of principle. 🙂

          We’ve seen too many people experience such great financial struggle and crisis as a result of using their credit cards that we can’t endorse or encourage the use of them — or feel comfortable using them ourselves anymore (I’ve never actually even had a credit card in my life, though my husband had one when we first got married).

          • says:

            Yes, as long as you run your debit through as credit, it should give you similar protection. It will most likely not extend the warranty or anything like that though, but it will give you the consumer purchase protection.

        • Suzanne says:

          Plus, some credit cards give rewards which equal money back for you! Great incentive, but only for the super disciplined or super frugal. I do not recommend credit cards for those tempted to buy and not pay off the card each month.

  • says:

    Oh I am so proud of you and hope this will encourage others to do likewise. We have been debt free for years and the freedom is unbelievable
    more satisfying than anything you could buy with a credit card!

  • Amber L. says:

    Great story, but I have to wonder if this woman thought about calling her insurance company and seeing if the tv was covered on her homeowners policy due to the lightning. When our well pump got hit a few years ago the guy who came out to pull it recommended we call our insurance because most things hit by lightning are covered in your policy. I am Super frugal but the thought never crossed my mind, and our $3,000 well pump just cost me the deductible. Now I know!

  • Kathy Frazier says:

    A few months ago, I sold my upright piano for $1,800. I then used some of that money to purchase a Yamaha full-sized keyboard at a big chain retailer. As I was getting ready to purchase the keyboard, I asked if they could throw in the optional keyboard foot pedal unit (which costs: $89.00) – he checked with the manager and they said yes! Always, always, ALWAYS ask for a discount or an additional item that goes with what you are purchasing. Retailers are hurting and want to make YOU happy so you will come back to their store. I was super happy about that deal!

  • says:

    This series of posts has been inspirational for me to be a better steward of the money God has blessed me with. My family is slowly trying to climb out of debt and hearing success stories is always helpful.

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