I read an article over on Bundle today that piqued my interest. It suggested that the best way to curb overspending on vacation is to get prepaid cards.
Since Tim is going to his disability hearing in Seattle next month, overspending has been a topic of worry/discussion. As you may recall, the last time he traveled up there, he spent far more than expected. In the end, we still ended up ahead, thanks to Tim’s win at a casino. Still, costs spiraled out of control on a few fronts, and a lack of sleep left Tim with few defenses to ward off the impulsive spending that is a hallmark of ADD.
This time, we are trying to find ways to avoid him overspending. We had discussed him just taking a set amount of cash up there with him. He even offered to leave all of his cards at home. But I told him that was a terrible idea — when traveling, you always risk running into an emergency situation.
Still, Tim doesn’t do all that well with cash — or hasn’t in the past. With hard cash, he’s more aware of his spending than when he uses a credit card. Probably, it’s slightly better than a debit card: He monitors our bank balance carefully before using the debit card for a purchase, but the numbers are still more abstract, I think, than with cash.
So, as the saying goes, cash is king. But what about a prepaid card?
A glance at cash left in your wallet can still be pretty abstract — at least until you’re down to your last couple of $20 bills. With a prepaid card, the balance would be neatly printed on each receipt. That might be an easier way to keep him aware of what he has left vs what he has spent.
On the other hand, he would need to be sure to check his balance after each juncture. Even after two or three years of my nagging, Tim still forgets to pay attention to purchase totals about 25% of the time. Habits take time to build, and it’s easy to slip back into old ways no matter how much practice you have.
Also, you waste a few dollars buying a prepaid card. It seems silly to pay to spend money.
I’d be interested to know what you guys think about cash vs prepaid cards. Also, how do you keep tabs on your travel spending?