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Using Debit Cards When On A Budget

Updated on September 29, 2016

Would you like to make a budget and actually use it? If so, debit cards are a great way for tracking personal expenses. Debit cards are an efficient way to track daily expenses and a great resource for personal budgeting. In the not too recent past people used checks and cash to pay for groceries, but over the last ten years it is much more common to see people using a debit card for purchases ranging from the dentist to buying a soda. Use of an ATM/debit card in conjunction with online is a great way to save money and stay within a budget. Are you still skeptical about the use of debit cards? Well, you should stop worrying because debit cards can help the consumer monitor their spending and are quite safe to use. Of course, as we everything else you must use common sense and monitor you checking account on a frequent basis to ensure you are not a victim of fraud. American money tends to be very bulky and takes up a great deal of space in a wallet, which I first realized when a couple of Australian tourists pointed this out to me at Disneyland.

For example, if you use a twenty dollar bill to buy a coke that is a $1.49, you will end up getting back one ten dollar bill, one five dollar bill, three one dollar bills, two quarters (25 cents), and one penny in change. Later the same day you go to another store and buy a soda for a $1.49 and give the cashier five dollars, which will result in $3.51 in change. Now your wallet will contain one ten dollar bill, six one dollar bills, four quarters, and two pennies. Smaller wallets are hard to close with this much bulky change, and hopefully, you are keeping track of all of these transactions to ensure the right change is being received. Although I love the heritage of American paper money and I think coin collecting can be a wonderful hobby, in the modern world I prefer to not carry change when possible because it takes up space and is easy to lose. This hub will investigate the benefits of using a debit card.

No More Dropping Change Everywhere

Imagine finally have reached the long of a front line at the grocery store and you can feel the breath of the anxious person in line behind you. Quickly, you hand the cashier a five dollar bill in exchange for the merchandise plus several bulky bills and some coins in return. What are you going to do with all this extra change? Sometimes I can feel the tension of the person in line behind me and I end up rushing to put my money back in my purse, which has resulted in me dropping change on the ground. Often I do not keep track of purchases in cash and it is much easier to forget your receipt when paying in cash than with paying with a debit card. With my debit card, I have trained myself to always ask for a receipt so I can track my finances online when I get home. Also, I would not want to leave a receipt with my personal debit information lying around, so this is a good safety precaution to use. Choosing a debit card with a Visa/MasterCard logo is another safety measure and ensures you bank with a credit union/bank that ensures your protection against fraudulent charges. Doing the proper research and choosing the right financial institution can make using a debit card a great financial planning tool.

Carrying around a check/cheque book can be highly inconvenient.  A debit card fits in your wallet and takes up much less space.
Carrying around a check/cheque book can be highly inconvenient. A debit card fits in your wallet and takes up much less space. | Source

Use Online Banking To Track Purchases

Once a day I log into my online banking account to make sure all of my balances are accurate. It is easy and convenient, and it ensures I stay on budget. For instance, one week I may set a fifty dollar spending allowance for groceries and transportation and being able to see it visually helps me stick to it. If I spend cash I tend to lose track and spend more than I usually would. Also, I often do not want a receipt when I am spending in cash, but always take my receipt when I make purchases with a debit card because I do not want my number floating around. In addition, I also use online bill pay for all of my bills so I can see that I am up to date and save money on stamps. The only time I like to spend money on stamps in this day in age is when I am writing a letter to a friend or sending them a book I enjoyed. Why would you want to spend extra money to pay your bills?

Credit Unions And Direct Deposit

By direct depositing my paycheck into my account I get my funds a day earlier than if I were to wait for a paper check, which is just one of the perks of my credit union. In addition, I do not have to spend time running around town to cash my check and pay other bills in person. Now I pay all my bills online and with direct deposit I have saved a great deal of time each month.

Here in California I have only ever had good experiences banking with a credit union. To begin with credit union are not banks, so they treat you as a member and not merely as a customer. Everyone is welcome to attend credit union meetings and they actually take our input seriously when it comes to make policy changes. For example, with my credit union it was slightly annoying when they used to charge us twenty-five cents every time you made a debit purchase at a store. However, last year they changed this practice and now all debit/ATM purchases are free without a charge. This is especially helpful because if you are out of town and cannot find at credit union ATM, you can always go to the grocery store and take out a small amount of cash with a small purchase. This is one thing I have done to avoid ATM fees and it is very convenient.

Be Safe When Using Your Debit Card

Yes there is fraud and you have to be careful not to use your debit card at smaller stores you may not be familiar with. However, if you track your finances daily you can make sure no one is draining your account. Also, I must say I have never had a problem with the credit union tracking my purchases because I feel I have nothing to hide, and on several occasions their tracking has helped me to rethink a couple of purchases I had regretted making. In my early twenties I fell for one of those get paid to take online survey scams, and right away my credit union called me to make sure this was not a fraudulent purchase. Credit cards do the same kind of tracking as credit unions and banks, and I guarantee you for the most part this is just to ensure our safety. Yes we live in more of a high tech society, but people can find out pretty much anything they want about you and we cannot blame a bank or credit union for doing this. For the most part banks and credit unions are protecting their customers and that is why they track purchases and spending, which is something I am very grateful for. If someone stole hundred dollars from me on a street corner I would probably never see it again, but with my credit union I would not have this problem because they are there to protect their customers against theft and fraud.

Extra Safety Precautions

There are extra safety precautions you can take to help make sure you are not a victim of fraud. LifeLock is a website that allows you to sign up personal alerts about anyone who may try to fraudulently open a line of credit in your name. There is a misconception that identity theft happens more online than offline, but research has shown that offline interactions result in far more identity theft cases than using the Internet. Do not allow fear or one bad experience to prevent you from using a debit card, credit card, or any other service. Another option is to buy a prepaid debit card for those who do not feel comfortable having their debit card tied to their checking account. Also, prepaid debit cards are great tools for teens and college students because you can put a set amount of money on these cards. Use debit cards with Visa/Mastercard logos for added protection and make sure too bank with a financial institution that will protect you and your debit card, and believe me there are ones that will protect your assets, so take the time to do proper research. Remain vigilante and if you have a fraudulent transaction you need to report it immediately. Overall debit cards are wonderful tools for budgeting and online banking.


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    • chamilj profile image


      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Good point. I agree with you. Debit Cards are useful. Voted up!

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Glad you feel that debit cards are useful Fluffy!

    • Fluffy77 profile image


      8 years ago from Enterprise, OR

      Great advise, glad to see someone else thinking like I always have about this.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA


      This hub is about using debit cards, which withdraw from your checking account. A debit card is like using an electronic check in stores, but I appreciate your comments.

    • abinavis profile image


      10 years ago from Bat Island

      We should wise to use credit cards and make a balance not to excessively use. Good advice anyway. Thanks for sharing.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for the comments.

    • AL Freed profile image

      AL Freed 

      11 years ago from Pensacola

      very good, right on!

      Albert Freed, D. M. N.


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