The Queen and I: Revisiting The Cashless Life and Credit, Too

In my recent post Does Cash Not Have That Real Feeling?, I suggested that financial gurus who write about one-size-fits-all financial management strategies aren’t doing the world a service.

Specifically, I said that while lots of these gurus promote using cash so you can see how much real money you need to spend to buy something, money can seem more real for those of us with limited resources when we use a debit card and must keep track of spending to keep from overdrawing.

That’s when someone brought the queen into this.

We Stand Corrected

Specifically, Jo at Simplybeingmum mentioned in a comment that she, like her Queen Elizabeth, doesn’t carry cash. That’s when I repeated something I had heard: the queen only carries extra white gloves and note cards in her purse. Why did I bother to say that? What does that have to do with anything?

I was making a point, then I was quoted, then I found out I was wrong. Let’s clear all of this up.

A mere seconds later — sorry, a couple of days later — Jo wrote her comments into a very nice post about how she uses credit cards responsibly. I suggest you read Why I am a a bit like The Queen at Simplybeingmum’s Blog. It’s a very useful post. Skip the intro where I’m quoted, however.

As it turns out, a wider sweep of sources indicates that the British queen carries chocolate drops for her dogs, perhaps some reading glasses, any upcoming speeches and a handkerchief in her bag also. She also carries a large metal hook. (It’s tough being queen, but I’m told it is to dangle the bag off the edge of a table.)

Primarily, however, the queen uses her bag as a signaling device for staff, indicating her boredom by holding it in one position and contentment by holding it another. She signals when she’s ready to end a meal by placing it on the table.

I stand chastened, rebuked, amazed, stunned and in utter disbelief that I, a former journalist known for thorough research, would make such an error.

Bringing Myself Into This Conversation

I made another mistake in my post about cash, however. I left myself out of it. I didn’t tell you how I handle cash.

I like to carry a modest amount of cash to cover paid parking and any place I might stop where the card machine isn’t working. But I pay for everything with either my checking account debit card or my PayPal debit card.

Too often in the past I’ve had to turn to a credit card to cover a bill or an unexpected repair — and I have debt weighing me down because of that, but I’m mostly recovering from it rather than increasing it.

With a budget as tight as mine, every way of transferring money from one owner to another seems real to me. Tracking cash, balancing accounts and avoiding credit traps are all very real circumstances in my life.

I hope that part of making my life simpler and more deliberate in 2011 is stabilizing my relationship with money by increasing my income and paying off the debt that takes so much money from me every month.

My debt takes away from my quality of life and, along with the debt of millions of other people, contributes to this nation’s unstable economic situation.

And even though I’m an American, I want to do what’s right for queen and country.


  1. I wouldn’t fret too much about the misquote – I’m a Brit and hadn’t a clue what she carried with Her Majesty!
    Cash doesn’t work for me – as I posted. It’s not accountable, I like to see it all tallied up in one place (be that credit card for me – or debit card for someone else), I can monitor my spend better that way. A few coins spent here and there when in a wallet looks insignificant, but a few coins/notes here and then when added up on a bill at the end of the month is hugely significant. It’s the old English proverb – ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’…

    1. I think you have the right idea, Jo. I think I would be even more reluctant to spend money if I had to pay it all in one big bill at the end of the month. I might even try to adapt to your method. The downside, of course, is overspending and being able to pay off the bill.

      I’ve heard that proverb before. I don’t think an American equivalent would have the same ring to it.


  2. Loved the details! Great article! We pretty much follow suit with you on the wallet contents, and blissfully these days go without spending for days at a time.

    1. I’m glad to see you commenting again, Gena. It’s nice to know you’re here. I’d love to be spending less than I am now. In fact, I really should be spending less since my income is at relatively low point these days.

      1. Gip,

        Do you follow the blog Get Rich Slowly? We’ve found fantastic tips there. Sometimes I think the more stuff we got rid of the more it opened our eyes to what it was we had been doing to our own future. We were taking care of others, providing their goods at times, keeping the downtrodden and depressed in our families well heeled and looking forward to vacations. Somewhere we lost ourselves and our goals, absorbed into the endless vacuum of need. We ended up leaving all behind to follow our dream and help others do the same. Now we are rebuilding what matters from scratch in many ways, glad to be doing it in our beginning 40s and grateful for the fresh perspective it has brought. I believe that good days will come again, but the way we handle the surplus…now that’s a different story.


        1. Gena, I’m checking out Get Rich Slowly now. I think I know HOW to do what I need to do, I just need to do it.

          I’d love to know more about your story — and I suppose I will once I explore your blog more deeply. I’ll take time to do that soon.

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    1. You have a very good point, Steve. I didn’t think of that. So maybe that little piece of info about the chocolate drops is wrong, too. I may need to make another correction…

        1. I’ve never heard of them, but after a quick Google search, I found they do exist. It must be a British thing. I hope they don’t taste as bad as fake chocolate for humans.

          Remember carob? It was popular in the 80s as a substitute for chocolate and was supposed to be healthier. But it only looked like chocolates. As I remember, it tasted like prune puree.

  4. I like debit cards because they keep track of expenditures like credit cards and I can download them into Quicken, saving a lot of bookkeeping hassle. After my financial debacles, I treat debit cards like giving blood–a little at a time is okay, letting me build my system back up, but too much, and….

    Of course this means credit cards are vampires, so the analogy holds.

    I really need to get one of those hooks. The bottom of a purse or tote gets horribly filthy because it often ends up on the floor, and then it gets set on a table or desk, etc. Ugh!!!

    1. I think the vampire analogy is very appropriate, Meg.

      Somehow I pictured you as a wallet-only person. I do think it’s interesting how women treat their bags. Some are excessively careful with them while others throw them anywhere.

      The place I read about the queen’s hook described it as a “meat hook”. I hope it’s something more refined than that. I’ve seen purse hooks available for sale, so I guess you and the queen aren’t the only ones who are concerned.


  5. Hi Gip, I stumbled into your blog because I’m a frugal person and always looking for ways to be one. LOL!
    I like the tone of your post. Yes, money is tight and we need to be wise in spending it. I almost always don’t have cash in my wallet because everytime I get do I always find a reason to spend them.

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