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In this episode of The TFD Test Lab, host Jazmine attempts a cash-only spending challenge to stay under budget and save money. Here's what she learns!

In The TFD Test Lab, we're sharing real-life experiences challenging ourselves to live better, more budget-friendly lives. Whether through attempting a no-spend challenge, switching up a budget system, or tracking progress on a new healthy routine, we'll be highlighting all the risks *and* rewards of frugal living.

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I am your host, Jazmine Reed-Clark, for The Financial Diet.

And this is the space where I take on different money challenges to live a healthier, happier, more budget-friendly life. And for this week's challenge, I am leaving my cards at home and going cash only.

So the guardrails of this week's challenge are pretty self-explanatory. I'm going to be using cash instead of a credit card or debit card. But let's talk about the why.

Pretty much every personal finance expert is going to suggest using cash over card if you have a problem with impulsive spending or emotional spending. In fact, according to, consumers are more likely to spend up to 83% more when they use a card over cash. And there's a ton of studies to really support this, but essentially we feel more of an emotional tie when we have cash, and it feels more of like an emotional trade for goods than when we are swiping a card and we are getting that card back.

In fact, really fun story time, when I first graduated college and I was making $12 an hour as an intern, I took my debit card. I didn't have a credit card at the time. I taped it to the ceiling of my laundry area.

And that was for emergencies only, and I used cash, and that is really how I was able to create some healthier financial habits in my early 20s. And when I first started my own business, I did this as well. Full transparency, I was making a little bit over $90,000 in corporate America.

And when I first started my business, I mean, I was making, like, less than 30K a year is what it would have averaged out to. And that was a huge lifestyle change-- shock and all. So my habits needed to change along with my income, and I went back to doing cash only.

And that is a very quick way to have a nice wake-up call. So I'm excited to try it again, and let's see how I did. [MUSIC PLAYING] All right, I am at the bank, and I just got my cash for the week. I got $100 total, 20 each, and it's going to be really easy to divide this among all the different costs I may have this week-- so 20 for gas and transportation, 20 for groceries, 20 for entertainment, recreational use, 20 for household items or toiletries, things like that, and then $20 for emergency and miscellaneous.

And that is a true emergency, not just Jazmine emergencies. So-- and with that, I am almost out of gas. So we are going to go find a gas station, and I'm going to pay in cash.

All right, not bad. I was a little bit above E, so I was able to get a nice, like, cute amount of gas. So between working from home full time and being still in the middle of a pandemic, everyone, my [BLEEP] did not need to be anywhere except at home.

So I didn't have a chance to spend any cash. However, I did go over to my Instagram community. You can follow me here.

And I asked them their feelings on card versus cash, and here's what they had to say. So when I asked when it comes to purchasing products, do you typically pay with card or cash, an astounding 95% of people said card, which wasn't too shocked by that. And then I asked, what is the average amount of cash they do keep in their wallet, and the options were none, about 20 bucks, $100, and over $100.

And most people said they keep $20 or less. And then I asked, when you're choosing card over cash, it's usually because of, A, online shopping, B, not enough cash, C, germs, or D, other. And B actually won out-- just not having enough cash on them.

And then I asked, in 2021, have you found yourself asking, do you all accept cash here? And I asked this because in Dallas we-- it's pretty common, I would say. There's almost a 50% chance that the local business you're going into doesn't accept cash, and that was even before the pandemic.

Everyone just has-- I don't know what the app is but where you swipe your card. And 77% of people said, no. I did get some really cool DMs.

Especially people who are out of the country explained to me that, like, in the Netherlands, no one uses cash, and it's a little bit just very much out of the ordinary. When I asked, when you do choose cash over card, it's because, A, I have the exact change, B, I want to break a bill, C, it's a small purchase, or D, I don't want my spouse to know what I'm buying, and C, it's a small purchase, is what won. And when I asked, why don't you keep more cash in your wallet, I gave the following choices-- A, what if I get robbed, which this was what I think-- OK, anyway-- A, what if I get robbed, B, too much hassle, a card is much easier, C, it's just harder to track purchases, or D, other.

Most people said, it is too much hassle and that a card is much easier. And when it comes to budgeting or smart spending, have you ever used cash to make sure you don't overspend? And 64% of people said no.

So I thought that was all really interesting. I would love to know, how would you all have answered those questions? Leave it in the comments below. [MUSIC PLAYING] OK, Jordan, so this is our date night.

Yeah. I spent all of my entertainment money in one swift purchase. I couldn't even do it in cash.

And also, there was a service fee. So I'm technically over budget this week. Yeah.

Are you excited? Yeah. We're going to go see our friends put on a comedy show.

Yeah. Actually, you may have seen them. It's (SINGING) animal facts.

They have a lot more stuff than that. OK, but that's the thing that's gone viral several times. Yeah.

That's what we're going to go do. Now, there is something I need from you. You're going to have to carry my wallet so that I am not suckered and pressured into buying drinks, mozzarella sticks, or fries.

Got it. OK. [MUSIC PLAYING] So Wednesday was the day that I got into a little bit of a conundrum with cash. Well, kind of.

I'll explain. So me and Jordan tried to go on regular date nights. In fact, when we were engaged and planning for a traditional wedding, which three weeks later we said-- well, I said, screw it, because it was way too stressful.

And then we actually got married at San Francisco City Hall. I can make, like, a whole video on that if you even care. Anyway-- but when I thought we needed to save up for a more traditional wedding, we got into the habit of these $10 dates.

And now we just still do them. They're really special to us. Anyway.

So we try to do regular date nights, and it was my turn. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And some of our really, really dear friends, they have a comedy troupe called Comedy for the Internet.

And during the pandemic, they really poured into their videos and content creation. They even had some things go viral on TikTok. So they had their very first live show this week.

And not only are they just some of our closest friends so we would want to support, it just is really inspiring, especially as a creator myself. So anyway-- so for me and Jordan's weekly date night, we decided to go to the comedy show. And I had literally just enough cash.

But it turns out, when you buy tickets online, there is that service fee that I did not budget for. But more than that, I thought I could only buy the tickets via cash. So I did have to, I guess, fail.

So I did fail this week. But I think it was really well worth it. But, lo and behold, when we got to the venue, it turns out you could have bought tickets at the door in cash.

So a tip or a lesson I learned was just call ahead and see if paying in cash is an option. A lot of the times it is. And now I know that for the future. [MUSIC PLAYING] So Thursday, I was hit with another cash obstacle.

So like I've shared throughout the series, my best friend and I love to take hip hop dance classes here in Dallas. The difference is I am horrible at dancing and she actually is a hip hop dancer. But it's a great way to work out, spend time together outside of doing some of the usual things here in Dallas like eating and drinking.

And I genuinely love how I feel when I dance, even though I'm not good at it. So the studio we typically go to is $15, and you can only reserve your spot online. And that's because you're usually filling out different forms and waivers, and it's just the way things work.

So instead of failing again since Wednesday I had to buy tickets to the comedy show via online and I couldn't pay in-- or thought I couldn't pay in cash-- I decided to just get a little thrifty, a little creative. And I just went over to her house. We typed in a hip hop dance YouTube tutorial, and we just got to spend time together, catch up, break a sweat.

And no, there is no footage of that because I am-- I mean, there's just lines of embarrassment I'm not willing to cross for engagement. But now this is a total option she and I can do moving forward. Because more than anything, it's just-- I just love to spend time with her and feel one with the music, something like that.

I don't know. Anyway, let's just go on to Friday. [MUSIC PLAYING] OK, so I feel like I failed this challenge but on a technicality because-- OK, no, I failed it. However, I do want to give myself A for effort because I got creative.

I stayed within budget overall for the entire week, and I'm taking a few lessons away. All right, so lesson number one-- or consider it a hack-- prepare and call ahead. So had I called ahead, I would have known I could have paid cash at the door for the comedy show and I would have totally avoided that pesky $6.50 service charge.

So with that said, maybe it's a restaurant or a local business. So find out if you can use cash or card when you're going out shopping or going out to eat. And if you can use cash and you do want to try this challenge, make sure that you bring enough money for gratuity, parking, or anything else you might need that night.

And lesson number two, get scrappy where you can. So I'm not saying do this every time you have the opportunity to spend money. But where you feel like you can afford to just get a little bit scrappy or get more creative and innovative with the details of a night out or spending time with a friend, do it.

I had such a-- like, it was so much fun to do the hip hop dancing. It gave me total '90s slumber party vibes when you're watching Smart House and you're breaking it down. And I mean, at the end of the day, I got what I wanted.

I got to spend quality time with my best friend, breaking a sweat, dancing to good hip hop music. So win-win-win. And we spent $0, and actually the dance studio we would have gone to is, like, 30 minutes from-- we live in the same neighborhood-- so 30 minutes from our neighborhood.

So we also saved on gas, too. And we have really great memories to last a lifetime. But here there is one reflection I want to share.

Throughout this week, I kept thinking, what if cash was my only option? What if I didn't have a debit card or a credit card? And I'm starting to see the evolution of our economy and capitalism is only becoming less and less accessible to all socioeconomic backgrounds.

And while I myself don't have a definitive solution for how we can solve the accessibility problem that we have in capitalism-- I mean, it's kind of an oxymoron-- I think it is something worth examining and talking openly with our friends and loved ones. But that's all I have this week. And thank you, guys, for watching The Test Lab.

Leave a comment below telling me what challenge I should try next. And again, I am Jazmine Reed-Clark for The Financial Diet. This is The Test Lab, and we will see you in the next video.