A Painful Question of the Day
Nicole Dieker

At the moment, I’m effectively cash-only; although I still have credit cards, they’re U.S. dollar-denominated accounts that would charge me weird foreign transaction fees, and they wouldn’t be accepted at most of the places I shop, which are themselves cash-only. (For bigger stuff in Italy, bank transfers are preferred, and essentially free.)

However, when I was in the U.S., I strongly preferred to spend on a credit card than to spend in cash, even for small purchases. If I could spend on credit, that meant (1) money could sit in my bank account for another month, accumulating whole cents of interest, and (2) I’d get whatever cashback bonus applied, which basically matched my interest rate. All in all, that meant I earned around 2% out of using credit cards, which isn’t much edge, but it counts. (I paid off my credit cards every month.)

I don’t think I experienced less pain either way. I don’t like spending money. The situation would be different if I didn’t have student loans at around a 7% interest rate I can’t refinance (I have a great credit score but low income, so my lack of risky behavior counts for nothing); as it stands, every time a cent leaves my control I’m thinking about how much I’d like to be out of debt. Until I have a positive net worth, it’s hard for me to consider any of my money as belonging to me, regardless of what form it takes.

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