I AGREE SO HARD WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID. I end up treating cash like play-money — I actually make a point of not keeping much cash on me because I will fritter it away so easily. Like you said, it’s so easy and painless! It feels already spent, and so it’s like this free money that you can do whatever with! And it’s nice to have a little of that, it’s a good week when I can afford to get some cashback at the grocery store and have play money, but I sure can’t make a habit of it. Debit cards, those are the REAL money, the numbers that have to be entered in the checkbook register.
And credit? I know I do spend more when using a credit card than I would if I were paying in “real” money, because why the heck not, I can’t afford this anyway, what’s an extra $10 I can’t afford on top of the $350 I can’t afford. And I’m sure that does shoot me in the foot later, but it’s not necessarily a pleasant experience even at the time, because — again, like you said— if I’ve had to break out the credit card, I’m already in a state of despair and panic. Happy things don’t go on the credit card, only disasters.