Friday, May 16, 2008

Question I've been pondering' money mo' problems edition

Sorry for all of the questions lately...I'll return next week with real actual substance. If you're pining for something, here's this week's column on federal spending.

But I got to thinking...what would you rather live in: A completely cash-free society (credit cards and the like), or a cash-only society (bill and coinage only)? The world we live in now is increasing moving towards a cash-free society-- or at least away from cash-only-- and I, for one, think this is a great convenience. If it were cash-only, going to the ATM to re-up your carrying cash amount would be a pretty frequent occurrence and probably the biggest annoyance, not to mention internet sales would be more of a drag, and paying cash for a car or house might be difficult. I'd choose the former.

Is it feasible to live cash-less? I think so. Toll roads might be tough. Otherwise, I think I could credit card my way through life. When I get back from New York this weekend, I think I'm going to see how many days in a row I can go without paying for anything using cash. Small meals may be the biggest challenge, but most fast food places and small restaurants do take credit cards. I'm fine parking downtown so long as I'm in the garage and there for longer than 6 hours (no coins in meters, $3.00 is the minimum credit card charge).

I'm curious to see how long this can last. Rob, can you price me an over/under?


The Chosen Rob said...

I'd have to know a bit more of your typical daily expenditures, but I'd guess by the end of the fourth day, there's something you attempt to buy that requires cash. Let's go with 95.5 hours.

Re: Tolls

We were just talking about this recently in the office after being presented with a mutual fund that focuses on global infrastructure (own the pipelines, not the oil). We began talking about the privatization of toll roads (Penn Turnpike already has, or is planning on it). One of my bosses was in Canada recently, and was sent a bill in the mail for the tolls... they simply take a picture of your license plate on the way by and send you the bill.

Now, I'm sure you may have a few questions, a few of which I can already answer. No, having a rental car won't absolve you, because he was in a rental, and they simply hook up with the rental agency to find out who owned that car at that time. (On a somewhat related note, in Israel, you are charged a toll-road fee when you rent a car, whether or not you actually drive on any toll roads... they just assume you will).

Also, I'm sure that they allow for some bad debt allowance, but it's probably still more profitable than compensating human beings to work the toll booths.

Dana said...

I think I'm on at least day three or four of not using cash. The nice thing about IL toll roads is that you can get the ipass which is a little box that deducts automagically. Also, the parking garages in Evanston accept cards (I enjoy charging $1 knowing that they have to pay at least $.05 to process it). If you actually try, you can go quite sometime especially in places like Chicago without ever needed to hit up an ATM. It would have been a full week, but I bought a cookie (had to borrow a dollar for that one) on Wednesday.

Justin M Ross said...

No doubt, electronic only. If something doesn't come out to the whole dollar, that change is essentially gone to me. If something costs $3.01, it might as well have cost $4 in cash. Electronic money overcomes this for me. Plus I hate going to the bank.