Paper vs. Plastic

Paper vs. Plastic

No, not a blog about re-cycling, this is a one sided conversation…well observation really on who we are as a people.

At lunch today my normal routine is to flip out a credit card (plastic) but, I decided to use “real dollars” instead.  When you hand over the plastic it does not really bother you that you just dumped $30 on lunch and another $6 on a tip.  When you hand over cash however; the reality of what you are spending hits home a little faster.

Years ago I took my child to be entertained at a place called Dave and Busters.  I still remember vividly how this resembled a small casino complete with the noises and sounds.  If you have been you know what I am talking about.  If you have not been, the place is an arcade/entertainment establishment geared to getting into your wallet in a big way.

When you go you “charge” one of their credit cards with one of your credit cards (or cash) and then give it to your child to go insert it into a machine and be entertained.  The reward for the child is that the machine spits out reams of paper tickets that one redeems at the end of their day for small toys straight from China.  The better you are at the game the more tickets you get. Yes, there are lights that blink and noises from the machine add to the excitement but the bottom line is that, Pavlov had nothing on these people.

Some children quickly accept the reward to play scenario and manage to use all of the “real money” on their card rather quickly in return for a fistful of tickets.  A quick visit to the place where you exchange your tickets for toys somehow actually teaches the dimmest of children the rudimentary mechanics of math.  I need this much for that and I have this much, how much more do I need?  Since the real money on the card came from your wallet, not theirs, the concept of spending $100 on an item worth $1.50; simply does not compute.  You may rationalize that they had a good time but, the model of using plastic for goods and or services works.

The moral of this story is this; give your credit card a break.  Go by the ATM and put $$ in your wallet or purse.  Only use those $$ for goods and or services.  The paper that you hand to someone is a real good reality check for anyone, including me.  The miles as rewards or the cash back as rewards will be better spent once you (and I) get acquainted with paper and coins once again.  –Best to you and all those that you care about.

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