Debt Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face had a very interesting post that put into words something that I have thought about myself for quite some time. Contrary to what a lot of pf experts (Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Dave Ramsey, etc) think, I find I spend less when I spend using debit or credit than with cash.
I will, with out a doubt, spend $200 in cash faster than with my debit card. I'm not 100% sure why I'm wired this way. I do remember my Mom saying that cash "burns a hole in my pocket" I certainly have memories of going out and spending cash given to me as a child as fast as possible before it went away or was stolen by my younger brother.
I think it may be that I am more conscious of when I have cash then the fact that I have money in my bank account. Don't get me wrong, I know exactly how much I have in my bank account right now ($127.45 - without checking!) but I'm not as conscious of it because it isn't physically there. I am a visual person. I need to see something in front of me to know that its there (or to understand a concept I've never learned before) so that may be a part of the reason too.
Also, when I don't have cash I don't make as many small frivolous purchases. One of the reasons why I've had a lot more no spend days recently is that I don't have cash to go to the convenience store (I refuse to pay a surcharge to use debit at a convenience store!) so no little purchases that would make the difference between a no spend day and a $1.50 or $2.00 spent day. Those little purchases add up!
I also track my purchases more effectively and have more of an idea of when I need to "stop" spending because my bank account is low or I've already spend X amount of dollars on stuff this month. I've only recently started tracking cash spending too and since I don't want to track a lot of purchases, spending no cash most days appeals to my lazy side ;)
I think what we all have to do is find out what works best for us and perfect this method by tracking and budgeting. I think this is what works best for me, despite what others may say.
How about you, do you spend more when you're using cash vs debit/credit? Do you think that in general people spend more when they use plastic?