Using cash helps half of Americans budget their money better

NEW YORK — The key to a healthy budget may be as simple as carrying cash! A new survey polled 1,500 Americans to analyze their payment preferences and discovered 51 percent believe using cash helps them budget their money, with members of Gen Z being the most likely to agree.

In fact, Gen Z respondents are the most likely to prefer using cash over other payment methods at 52 percent. Using cash as a budgeting tool seems to be working well, with 61 percent of Americans saying they keep a strict budget to know how much they spend. Baby boomers lead the pack at 65 percent on this front.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Cash Connect, the survey also finds 77 percent agree there’s nothing worse than finding out they need cash when they have empty pockets.

Emergency cash stash

Cash HabitsThe results show Americans keep an average of $52 on their person and three-quarters of respondents keep an emergency “cash stash” averaging around $89. One in five respondents note their emergency stash is upward of $200. Aside from your standard hiding places, like a spare purse or wallet (29%) or a home safe (18%), the survey uncovered some more unusual hiding spots for Americans’ emergency cash.

Hiding your cash in the mattress seems to still be in fashion, along with secret books on the bookshelf. One respondent hides their emergency fund in their trailer hitch and another opts to squirrel their cash away in old prescription bottles.

Secret hiding places aside, the survey also delved into what exactly Americans are using their cash for, with tips topping the list. Just over a third of respondents (36%) go out of their way to withdraw cash for tipping specifically, even if they don’t plan to pay the actual bill in cash.

“There’s this perception that cash is disappearing, and it is not,” says John Clatworthy, SVP, Director of Client Services of Cash Connect, a division of WSFS Bank that provides cash logistics services, in a statement. “What we are seeing is that consumers still see cash playing an important role in how they manage their money and make payments.”

What do people dash to cash for?

Cash HabitsThe list of top things Americans prefer to pay cash for includes fast food (44%), candy and snacks (37%), coffee (32%), and gas (27%).

With all of this in mind, there are some limits to Americans’ cash transactions – $31 to be exact. Any more and respondents would prefer to use another payment method for their purchase. The survey also polled 500 business financial decision-makers to analyze their cash habits and found this feeling is mutual. Thirty-nine percent of these respondents have a cash-only policy for purchases less than $20. In fact, 43 percent of their businesses’ purchases are less than $20.

“It is important for businesses to continue to accept a variety of payments for them to grow; there are ways and things like smart safes for them to easily manage their daily cash flow and improve their reconciliation processes,” Clatworthy adds.

Similar to the 77 percent of Americans who believe running out of cash is their pet peeve, 71 percent of the financial decision-makers say there’s nothing worse than a customer whipping out a large bill to make a small purchase. This can be especially difficult when their businesses start to run low on change for cash purchases – which happens an average of four times a week.

Overall, 82 percent of the financial decision-makers say their businesses have seen steady cash payments over the last five years, despite also seeing an increase in person-to-person digital payments.

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