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Cash or credit, the debate goes on

How long will cash stick around?

This has become a perennial question in numismatics. It might even take on political overtones if the $20 bill is abolished before Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew can make good on his promise of Harriet Tubman displacing Andrew Jackson.

Introduction date of the Tubman $20 could be as late as the year 2030 or 2035.

Ever since I have had to take my elderly mother grocery shopping, I have had more opportunity to observe people’s monetary behavior.

She still pays in cash. She doesn’t eat much, so the sums are fairly low.

However, as we go through the checkout line on a regular basis I see how many people use debit or credit cards.

On the other side of the coin, I ducked into a Dairy Queen on Sunday on my way home to Iola.

The line was short. Ahead of me was a mother and her about to be 8-year-old daughter. They were buying a birthday cake. The cost was just over $30.

While the employees were going to get the frozen treat, the mother put a $100 bill on the counter.

The mother and daughter talked about the denomination and the daughter commented that she had $1 bills.

Obviously, the use of cash continues and its significance is being transmitted to the next generation.

But when my turn came, the bill was much lower. What did I use? A credit card.

American payment habits are changing.

The only question really is how fast is the change occurring?

I have long maintained that cash will be in use for my lifetime. That might still be the case, but I am seeing evidence the change is happening faster than I expected despite my latest experience at the Dairy Queen.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to Cash or credit, the debate goes on

  1. mattw1978 says:

    I also see more and more people using credit and debit cards more often then cash myself included

  2. Vachon says:

    I don’t see credit/debit cards as more convenient than cash as I see them as another layer of Gresham’s Law. Credit/Debit cards are driving the good money, fiat cash/coin, from circulation which in turn drove the better silver/gold money from circulation prior to that.

    And while gold bugs will continue to argue that fiat currency is just as worthless as electronic currency, at least the former still preserves transactional anonymity whereas recorded electronic transactions do not.

    I think at some level we know that, so we hoard our cash and use it when maybe we’d like it not known where we’ve been/what we’ve been doing that day. Considering your observations, I wonder what the credit/cash ratio would be for other types of business like adult entertainment or potentially embarrassing minor medical needs and how it might differ from typical grocery store purchases?

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