For several years now, I've routinely not carried cash on my person. I carry my debit card and that's it. I prefer not to hassle with cash, to be honest.
However, there's one big problem that I'm running into by doing this, and it's bothering me. I'm largely unable to help people.
Today as I was walking back to the office from lunch, a homeless guy asked me for some help. I gave him my standard reply: "I'm sorry man, but I don't carry cash. I've only got plastic on me." I said the same thing yesterday when a different man asked me for a quarter as I walked to lunch at 4th Street Live. Last week there was a women's and children's charity collecting donation at the intersection nearest my office. I gave them the same response.
This is troubling me.
In making my own life easier, simpler, I'm making other people's lives harder. It's not that I don't want to help these people. I just can't, while carrying only plastic.
I think that what I'm going to start doing is carrying a $5 bill in my pocket every day, along with my debit card. I'll still buy my lunch and everything else with plastic, like always. But the next time a person in need asks me for a hand, I'll give em that 5-spot that I've earmarked for just that purpose. The next day, I'll have to remember to replace that Abe Lincoln in my pocket with another so that I can help the next person who asks.
What do you guys think? How often do you give money to folks who ask you for a little help?