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Cost of Living: Is ‘cash stuffing’ the ideal way to budget?

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As the cost of living continues to rise in Aotearoa, many New Zealanders are ditching plastic for a living on cash, and one economist thinks they may be riding a winning idea.

Read this story in Te Reo Maori and English here. / Panuitia tenei i te leo maori me te leo pakeha ki konei.

“Cash stuffing” or “cash pockets” is a budgeting method that involves setting aside cash for all purchases.

No cards or paywaves, so no reckless spending or overdrafts. When the cash is physically gone, there will be no more spending.

And it’s exploded on social media, with the hashtag #cashstuffing amassing over a billion views on TikTok.

Christchurch-based Ninotchka McKay, 47, said cramming cash worked and has greatly reduced her financial worries since she started over a year ago.

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The mother of two kids has been on record for a cash-centric life over the past year. YouTube channel Also, paying with physical money minimized careless spending and lessened my anxiety about debt and bills.

Ninotchka McKay has been cramming cash for over a year, which she said has eased her financial worries.


Ninotchka McKay has been cramming cash for over a year, which she said has eased her financial worries.

As a full-time student and mother of two children aged 14 and 6, her financial resources are limited. Taking into account her rent and bills, that leaves her with about $300 a week to cover everything else, from her food and entertainment expenses to her children’s expenses.

So how does it work?

When she receives her paycheck, the money is transferred to an account where she doesn’t have a card.

Enough money remains in the bank to cover the bill, and the remaining amount is transferred and withdrawn. From there, it breaks down into 15 categories, ranging from long-term savings and everyday expenses like groceries to specific purchases like her “I love tacos” pockets. This is for her to use for her graduation dinner as she finishes her graduation thesis.

If she wants to buy something, she will buy it from the budget for that category. If the pocket is empty, there is no spending.

And what started as a way to manage a budget when grocery bills became a “real anxiety” has become a way to “take the stress off.”

She’s become more aware of what she’s spending her money on than when she used to just swipe a card to shop.

And when you see your money dwindle, you’ll start to wonder if you really need to spend it.

An administrator is involved. She keeps a spreadsheet of her expenses and documents her savings, but the “paperwork,” she says, takes about 10 minutes a week.

What really struck her was the improvement in her mental health and the amount of anxiety and worry involved in keeping track of bills and expenses.

Ninotchka McKay chronicles her cash-cramming journey on her YouTube channel.


Ninotchka McKay chronicles her cash-cramming journey on her YouTube channel.

McKay carries “almost” no cash in his wallet each day, but if he needs access to money in an emergency, such as when his car breaks down, he can transfer money from his bills account to his eftpos card account. can.

Christopher Walsh, head of research at Money Hub, hadn’t seen social media trends yet, but he wasn’t surprised to see social media gaining traction.

He said he believes the recent uptick in hardship-related searches on budgeting websites suggests that the appropriation of cash may come from financial hardship and desperate situations for many. Stated.

And he’s all for the idea, especially if it keeps people from going into debt with credit cards.

“I like it when having cash in your pocket is the answer to staying out of debt and just spending what you have.”

“No temptations, no online banking to overdraft. All you have is cash…you can’t go wrong.”

how to pocket cash

Having perfected the art of cash stuffing, McKay shared some tips for those just starting out.

  • Start with your budget. It won’t work unless your income and expenses are clearly shown (free templates can be found online)
  • Automate every invoice and expense possible.Make sure it’s from an account not linked to a debit card
  • Start small. You can choose three categories that you spend regularly, such as groceries, gas, and entertainment. Receive the amount in cash.
  • Please save your change. You’d be surprised how quickly this adds up. It will feel like extra money or bonus money.

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