A few weeks back I wrote about the disappearance of cash from our society. I offered it up as a question of whether it was a good thing or bad. I challenged folks to pay cash for a week to see if they spent more or less when they had to reach in their wallets and pull out cash and were more aware of what they were spending.
Since then, I’ve observed or read about some valid reasons for moving to plastic. My wife and returned from a trip later than expected (delayed twice –once for mechanical and the next time for de-icing the plane—in April!). There was a young woman staffing the parking lot booth with a big sign posted that said, “CREDIT or DEBIT only, NO CASH.” At that late hour, not having cash in her till provided some security as there wasn’t anything in there to steal.
For retailers, it’s a safer avenue to want customers to use plastic. When there’s less money changing hands and the register till doesn’t open, there’s less temptation for a dishonest employee to help themselves to cash from the drawer. When you reduce or eliminate temptation, there’s less opportunity to steal. And, there’s also the time involved in going to the bank for deposits and change. They tell me that the ease of processing credit can outweigh the expense of the transaction.
When you put something out on Craig’s List or NextDoor for sale, the safest way for the seller to know that they are going to get their funds is to ask for cash. However, that means that the buyer has to go get cash at the bank, travel with it in their car and then you may be observed receiving the cash in exchange for your merchandise. I read a banker’s advice that suggested that you meet the potential buyer at the bank and make the exchange of funds inside the bank or have the teller help you make a cashless exchange from account to account.
A new term for me is “jugging.” It’s when someone sees you at the ATM and then follows you home or to your next stop to steal your cash. Never leave your cash in the car. We are busy and distracted these days. A friend of mine was dealing with the death of his mother and was really distraught. He stopped at the ATM then ran in the house to get something he forgot. In the short time he ran inside, his car was broken into. Young moms or trusting seniors can find themselves caught off guard either by distraction or forgetfulness. Take the time to review your surroundings before exiting your car.
With feedback and additional research, I may be convinced to change my mind about the disappearance of cash. If you choose to rely on charge cards for the majority of purchases, I suggest you and your family develop some way to track your spending and make adjustments to enable you to pay your full balance off when the bill comes.
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