Are Contactless Payments Blowing Your Budget?

Is contactless blowing your budget? Should you really be using it? Find out why I think it's a bad idea. Contactless | Payment | Card | Credit | Debit | Budget | Stick To | Bank Balance | Pending Payments | Frugal Living | For Families | Budgeting | How To |
Is this the reason you can’t stick to your budget?

Hands up who loved the introduction of contactless payments? How much easier has it made your day to day life, being able to simply tap and go?

But should you really be using contactless for all your small purchases? Is it actually as good an invention as you’re being made to believe? Here’s why I think it’s actually a bad idea…

How much do you really keep track of your expenses?

Are you an obsessive balance checker? If you check your bank balance more than once a day, I’m going to go ahead and say yes!

I’m guessing most of you don’t check your balance every day though, and instead you mentally keep a rough track of how much your spending each day.

That’s ok! I don’t check my balance everyday. But, because I’ve been using our current budgeting system for so long, I know where my money is going and how much I’m spending. If we have a week where we’re out of our usual routine (like holidays or extra days out etc), then I do check in more often, just to make sure we’re still on track for the month.

 

This is the reason contactless payments are blowing your budget. #frugalliving #budgeting Click To Tweet

 

How often should I check my bank balance?

If you’ve been using a budgeting system for a while, or if you consistently track your spending using an app, then you can probably get away with checking in once or twice a week. That might sound scary if you’re an obsessive balance checker right now, but as you get better at curbing your spending and sticking to your budget, you’ll find you naturally start to check your bank balance less.

So, why all this talk about checking your bank balance? What does that actually have to do with contactless payments? Well, let me explain…

 

Why do I need to know about pending payments?

Whenever you check your bank balance (however frequently that is), you will be aware that you are given 2 numbers.

  1. Your current balance.
  2. Your available balance (ie how much you actually have available to spend).

This second number takes into account pending payments. This is essentially anything you’ve paid for that hasn’t actually been taken out of your account yet. Some debit card payments don’t get taken out straight away, but they DO show up in your list of pending payments. They are also taken into account when you’re shown that second ‘available’ balance.

 

How do contactless payments differ?

Contactless payments don’t immediately come out of your bank account. Neither do they appear in your pending payments.

What does happen is that the bank generally waits until you use your card with the PIN again, then they take the contactless payments out.

 

You could easily get a nasty shock!

So, if you’ve had a bit of a run of using your contactless card, forgetting to keep track of your expenses, you could easily be hit with a sudden drop in your bank balance!

This could happen even if you’re an obsessive balance checker!!!

You might have checked your account thinking “great, I’ve got plenty to cover this purchase”, only to then discover 24 hours later that all those contactless payments you hadn’t accounted for have suddenly disappeared out of your account. Whoops!

 

Why has my money suddenly disappeared?

This took a while for me to get my head around! I was so used to checking my pending payments, I didn’t realise my contactless ones weren’t included in there. My money would suddenly disappear and, only then, would I realise they had been missing off the pending list.

I know this is a security thing and it’s good that the banks want to check that your card hasn’t been stolen before taking those payments. But, for a control freak like me, it really doesn’t work with how I manage my money.

So I’ve stopped using contactless altogether!

 

Why I've stopped making contactless payments, and why you should do the same. #frugalliving #budgeting Click To Tweet

 

So, should I ever use my contactless card?

This really is a personal decision. I do like the ease of the ‘tap and go’ facility and I may come round to it in the future. But for now, it just seems like another way you could spiral yourself into debt without realising it.

 

Pros

  • Quick and easy for simple payments like coffee or lunch on the go.
  • I really am struggling to find any other pros, although this is a good one for busy people.

 

Cons

  • The money doesn’t come out straight away and doesn’t show up in your pending payments, so there’s no way to keep track unless you have a brilliant memory!
  • Can easily land you in your overdraft without realising and incurring bank fees.
  • Much easier for someone to start spending your money if your card is stolen (but that’s a whole other post in itself).

 

Pros and cons of contactless. You decide if it's worth the risk. #budgeting #frugalliving Click To Tweet

 

Summary

Contactless is here, whether you like it or not! It certainly has its benefits. But you need to be really careful about how often you’re using it and how much money might suddenly disappear out of your bank account.

If you’re carrying contactless cards around with you, you absolutely must have one of these special covers or you’re opening yourself up to fraudsters. To read more about my reasoning behind this,  check out this post.

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