As a tangible store of wealth, cash has long been a pillar of good budgeting, and now—after the double rush on cash machines seen before Britain’s lockdowns—a study reveals that, for over half of UK adults, carrying cash helps them ‘appreciate the real value of money’.
The study, from online bank Marcus by Goldman Sachs, surveyed over 8,000 Brits in a bid to understand what people value and perceive as being worthwhile in their lives today. Part of the research explored attitudes to carrying physical money, and while half the respondents said they were less likely to use cash at present, half said it helps remind them of money’s real value, and one in three noted cash helps them to budget.
While our research demonstrates many are less likely to use cash as a result of COVID-19, we may see the way we use cash change once again as society adapts to life in the pandemic. Rumours of a cashless society in the near future could well be exaggerated.
One in three of those surveyed said they worried if they weren’t carrying any cash. 57 percent of people aged 18–34 did not agree with the statement ‘you shouldn’t need to carry cash in this day and age’, rising to 84 percent among those aged 55 and up. The average amount of cash carried is £36 (around €40/US$48), with people in London carrying the most and those in Scotland carrying least.
Iona Bain, founder of the Young Money blog and expert on youth finances, picks up on the ‘generational divide in attitudes towards cash’, but notes that many groups in society rely on it, including small businesses, 5.5 percent of which are owned by people under thirty.
I wouldn’t write off cash. Many groups in society depend on it, from small businesses to the elderly, and are keen that it survives. Plus, we instinctively grasp the value of money when it has a physical form, so cash will always be a useful corrective when we need to get a grip on our finances.