Passing Go and Collecting $200

That’s it. I have snapped. I believe it is time to deal with the change.

It is time to play Monopoly.

Going through university, I found myself sitting on a black, leather foam bench with my friend who was studying engineering and finance at the time. We were also surrounded by other young engineering students. Somehow, we got into the discussion of credit cards. The conversation took a strange turn and I found myself explaining how credit cards worked to these wide-eyed engineering undergrads.

That flicked a switch in me.

Most people don’t know how things like credit cards work.

Now I realize that many of us don’t have a penchant for personal finance. Being an odd teenager, it wasn’t uncommon to find my nose buried in a book on saving money, like Lisa Dudson’s Get Your Head Out of the Sand. To me, she is like the female Dave Ramsey.

The thing was that even though I knew how credit cards worked and paid my balance in full every month, I was still allowing money to leave my bank account too easily. I’d spend almost mindlessly when I was feeling happy, sad, angry, hungry – you name it. I would buy video games that were never played for months. I would go out and buy expensive gifts for friends. When I was bored, I would do some online shopping. But the worst thing was: I wasn’t really spending it on me.

Even though I do fear the change, and how to deal with getting more change, I’m learning to manage my money better. I’m going back to the days when I was a kid and only had pocket money to spend. I didn’t have a credit card then. The worst I could do was overspend with the money I had in my pocket, not money that I didn’t have. I once spent pretty much my entire earnings selling cookies for a class project at the arcade playing House of the Dead. Once it was gone, I would just go back home.

Now it’s time for me to play good ol’ Monopoly again – no cards, just cash. Cash in envelopes. Though I’m not totally restricting my credit card use, I’m budgeting with cash. What I’m doing is saving for things that I want or need to buy in cash, putting it aside and using that to pay my bill once it arrives. That way, the money is out-of-sight and out-of-mind. It also gives me awhile to really think about whether I really, really, really need or want that new thingymajig or not.

So just wanted all of you to know, I’m going back to the basics – with change in my hands.

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