5 Reasons Everyone Should do a Cash-Only Week

Paul Atherton
The Money Plot
5 min readFeb 7, 2022


When was the last time you paid for something in cash? Going cash-only can have great benefits for your budget.

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Regular payments through direct debit can be great. I’ve suggested before that when you budget, you should set up your have-to payments as direct debits.

But what happens is, you find a lot of automatic payments and regular cash going out of your account that you’ve forgotten about. It happens.

You’ve thought, let me try that out. I’ll buy Netflix, and I’ll try Stan. I’ll see which I like the best, then you end up with both, and paying for both, even though you only use one of the services.

What cash only weeks do is flush out all of the unnecessary spendings.

Now, I’m not saying you should pause all of your automatic payments just for a week, but you should do a regular review of your automatic payments.

But I’ve found for myself, my friends, and clients, that a cash-only week is very healthy for your financial and general wellbeing.

These benefits start to show up right away because it forces you to start thinking…how much cash do I need to take out? It’s a bit daunting to consider, but in my experience, always worth it.

I’ve got five big reasons why I do cash only weeks, and why you should too.

1. Cash only helps you get rid of bad habits.

When do we recognise a bad habit? Well, not often.

Sometimes a good friend or a confidant may hint that you have a bad habit. And if you’re in the right mood and have the right frame of mind, you might pick up on it. Perhaps you’re vaguely aware of the habit. But even then, how long does it take to get rid of it?

I think living on cash for a week emphasises those habits.

It brings bad patterns up to the front, and then you have to deal with them, at least during that week. You have to confront it and ask yourself, do I need to spend money on this? This question is especially important for bad habits that affect your health, like smoking.

2. You start living consciously.

I don’t want to get too new-agey on you. But fundamentally, we live unconsciously. We go through the day-to-day. We drive to work. We go, how did I get here?

When we do things regularly, we start to move through life unconsciously.

And guess what?

Loads of companies want you to live unconsciously-credit card companies, banks, marketers.

During a cash-only week, all of a sudden, you become a conscious spender. You’re more likely to wonder, should I be buying that? And that’s incredibly important. It can make you feel in control of your spending and your life.

3. You will discover that living on cash isn’t that bad.

At first, it’s a bit intimidating. Your spending feels different. Parting with a $50 bill compared to tapping on payWave doesn’t feel the same. It’s usually harder to part with or break a large note than to tap a card.

But when you discover that life goes on, that you can pay in cash, and the world hasn’t come to an end for you, then you start to realise how much awesome stuff in your life is actually free.

This morning, I went for a walk on the beach with my wife. It’s one of the most rewarding, pleasurable things that I do, and it cost me nothing. You’ll discover small stuff like this too, that bring you joy, and for the grand sum of $0.

4. It’s easier to separate the needs from the wants.

You may really, really feel that you need that Ferrari. But you don’t.

You need oxygen. You need food. You need transport… but you don’t need a Ferrari.

You want a Ferrari; we all want that expensive item, but you need to understand the difference between the needs and the wants.

Companies have thousands of engineers and marketers that want you to confuse the needs and the wants.

It’s their job to make you feel like you need what they sell.

You have no chance against that; these guys are good. That’s what their job is-getting you to want and buy things you don’t need.

If you live on cash for a week, you’ll start to feel the difference.

5. You worry less.

Whenever I do a cash-only week, I start to worry less about my financial future.

I don’t tend to worry about it much anyway, but I just stopped worrying when I was doing this in the early days.

I’ve got clients and friends who have tried this too. I say, just do it for a week and watch what happens.

They go through all the stages I’ve just mentioned, but every one of them emphasises that they stopped worrying. They stopped spending so much time concerned about the future.

I don’t quite know why 100% of people who do a cash-only week stop worrying. But I suspect that, when you do this, you realise a few things:

  • To live a happy life, you don’t need as much money as you think.
  • The most joyous things in life are often free or very inexpensive.
  • And your happiness threshold is a lot lower than you think.

Consumer marketers don’t want you to know this. But I do. I want to challenge you to do this. Set a challenge; see if you hit all these fives points. But I know you’ll hit the last one, and that’s where I want you to be — not worrying about your financial future.

Want to try a cash-only week? Here’s what you should remember.

  1. A cash-only week is financially and physically healthy.
  2. Bad spending (and social) habits come to the forefront.
  3. You become a more conscious spender.
  4. You find joy in simpler life moments.
  5. Freedom from financial worry is possible.

This information has been provided as general advice. We have not considered your financial circumstances, needs or objectives. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice. You should obtain and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and seek the assistance of an authorised financial adviser before making any decision regarding any products or strategies mentioned in this communication.

Originally published at https://thatwallstreetguy.com.



Paul Atherton
The Money Plot

I am an ex-Wall Street advisor who has worked with major players in the global financial industry for more than 30 years. Mission: Great advice for everyone