Paper or plastic?


I carry cash. I always have. As a member of the last generation to grow up before the widespread existence of cell phones, I learned to always have at least a little cash on hand, if not only in case of an emergency.

Overall, people carry very little cash. A May 2014 survey by Bankrate showed that more than two-thirds of adults carry less than $50 in cash at any given time. Nine percent of respondents reported carrying no cash at all.

Of course, there are benefits to using alternatives to cash. When cash is stolen, it’s gone. Using cash may be more time consuming in certain situations. Cash doesn’t earn cool perks like airline miles or a meager percentage rebate.

People are still using it, otherwise we wouldn’t keep printing it in newer, more colorful designs. In 2012, more than $358 billion (face value) of currency was printed, roughly 90% of which replaced damaged, out-of-circulation money.

So what are the benefits of using cash? Data from Intuit shows that 55% of small businesses do not accept credit card, though that number will continue to fall as it becomes even easier to accept cards through mobile point-of-sale systems like Square. Currently though, 45% of small business, some of which you may want to patronize, may not accept a card. Businesses (and those working in tipped professions) may prefer cash as it is easier to keep off the proverbial books. Keep in mind: during a power, phone, or internet outage, a business may be unable to process card transactions.

Cash is also great in an emergency. Roadside repairs, thanking a good samaritan with a cash reward, or an emergency call from a phone booth (those still exist, right?) are all instances where carrying even a small amount of cash can pay off. The reason I carry and primarily use cash may be the most important though.

Cards make it sooo easy to spend more than you intend. Cash gives you a limit, usually what is in your pocket. Even if you can hit up an ATM or visit your bank, you’re still limited by the value of your account. Credit removes that barrier. This is why it’s a great idea for businesses to accept cards. According to an article on Forbes, “Scientific studies have shown that people are more likely to complete a purchase if they intend to pay with a credit card than if they intend to pay with cash. Cash just seems more scarce, so people are more likely to try to conserve it.”

Absolutely. My cash doesn’t just seem scarce; it is.






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