We largely live in a “post-cash” world. What does that mean? The majority of our purchases, online and offline, are now made using credit cards and other electronic payment processing. Today, almost all of your purchases can be made by swiping a card, and even more of those purchases can be made using apps on your phone, charge accounts, and other technological advances in purchasing.
Today, we’re giving you a few of our favorite post-cash apps and payment shortcuts, but we’re also recognizing that these kinds of apps can do a great deal of damage to your finances and giving you the tools to proceed wisely and with caution.
Our Favorite Post-Cash Shortcuts and Apps
- Uber. There has been a lot of news coverage lately about Uber, and even I wasn’t sure I understood what the service was about until my in-laws came to town and we needed a 6 person transport option that would be easier than taking two taxis everywhere. Here’s how Uber works: you download the app and input your credit card information, you then use your GPS to request a pickup (you can select a taxi, towncar or an SUV that seats up to 6 passengers). You’ll see the driver coming your way in real-time GPS, and get a text message when the driver arrives. You can even get a price quote before you order the car. You hop in, head to where you’re going, and hop out. Nothing to sign, no card to swipe, and your credit card is automatically charged through the app.
- Another company similar to Uber is HailO Cab. I’ve used them as well and have been happy with their service.
- GrubHub. If you want hot food right at your door, in many cities, you’re going to have to call them directly, go pick it up yourself, and ultimately your food arrives hours later and cold. Not with GrubHub, Career Girls! GrubHub allows you to order from hundreds of local restaurants, arrange delivery, pay and tip automatically online, and review and recommend to others.
- While GrubHub is huge in Chicago and many other cities, you may also try Seamless and BiteSquad to find one that best fits your city.
- Passbook is a new feature on iPhones that allows you to store everything from tickets to rewards cards. I use it for my Eventbrite tickets, tickets purchased through Fandango, my Walgreens rewards card, and more. In the future, you’ll be able to use Passbook for credit cards, purchases and more. Watch this Apple service in the future and you’ll see amazing things.
Proceeding with Post-Cash Caution
Living in a “post-cash” world can be exciting. After all, it’s easy! No more checks to write, no more receipts to sign. It’s simple, right? Right. But it can also affect your finances. To ensure you’re not getting buried in “oops” purchases you forgot about because of your post-cash mentality, follow these steps:
- Keep a check register even without a checkbook. I’ll admit, I’m a bit crazy and still write down all of my expenses in the moment (or soon after) I spend. No matter the credit card or store card or debit card, it all gets put into a register. This kind of accountability can help you to continue to watch your spending carefully even when it’s easy spending.
- Use a service to see all of your accounts in one place. I’m a big fan of our friends over at LearnVest for this. We tend to forget about “that one credit card” you never use, and is somehow linked to your Starbucks account. Pretty soon, you have overcharges and you’re buried in a debt you just forgot about. Using LearnVest or Mint.com, for instance, will allow you to see all of your cards and accounts in one place and to be sure you’re on top of those bills.
- Don’t do something because of an app you wouldn’t do without it. I’ll admit, when I first downloaded Uber, I got a little “Uber happy.” Suddenly I was taking taxis to places I might have walked otherwise. I had to check myself before I wrecked my budget and decide that I was only going to use Uber for trips over a mile or on very cold/windy/rainy days. Otherwise, I needed to walk or take public transit as I usually would. Apps can be helpful to add to convenience, but don’t use them just because they’re convenient.
What are some of your favorite “post-cash” helpers, Career Girls?