Updated: Oct 21, 2022
While cash saw a slight increase in 2020, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, it’s no secret usage has generally declined over the years. Credit and debit cards, and now contactless and digital mobile payments are typically more convenient than cash.
However, a higher percentage of Gen Z (37%) and Millennials (22%) use cash than any other demographics. Experts say the reason Gen Z prefers cash is because they may be too young to have bank accounts and debit cards, others point to Gen Z and Millennial’s worrying about taking on too much debt as they saw their parents do. But no matter the reason, using cash is a great way to control spending. And these tech savvy generations know it.
With inflation at a 40-year high and the recent pandemic throwing the world into chaos, young generations seem more inclined to save and watching their parents get in over their head financially has shown them a lot of what not to do. Using their experience, they have learned to use cash to their benefit. To use it to budget more carefully rather than get in debt using cards – which may be more convenient but also allow for impulse buys and careless spending.
These younger Americans use social media to express their opinions and their cash spending habits. Hashtags such as #Cashtuffing are trending. And many Gen Z, Millennials and even Gen X are challenging each other on TikTok to use cash to pay their bills and hence budget more effectively.
So, what can we learn from Gen Z and Millennials about the benefits of using cash?
Cash Allows Room for Discounts - One of the leading factors for the increased use of cash by Gen Z and Millennials is discounts. They find using cash an effective way of bargaining. Also, there are no hidden fees or interest rates when you pay with cash.
Avoid Debt - The amount of debt Americans hold is no big secret and younger consumers want better ways to counter that. Credit cards are quick ways to access goods, but they come at a price. Also, with record high inflation creditcards.com shows that older Americans are in debt more than ever before. So, Gen Z are playing it smart and sticking with cash to stay on budget and keep out of debt.
Cash Makes Budgeting Easy - Cash is an efficient way to help budgeting become a habit. Since cash is tangible, it allows consumers to track their spending and avoid overspending. Gen Z have noticed this and are enjoying the benefits. They withdraw cash from their accounts and allocate it in different envelopes for different activities, a method known as #cashstuffing.
Is cash the answer to surging inflation and staying out of debt? Younger Americans seem to think so.
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