These days you can pretty much use plastic to buy everything. Even parking meters take credit or debit cards. While I may have a few bucks in the house, when I go shopping, I am usually without cash. According to the huffingtonpost.com, in 2011, "plastic card purchases comprised 66 percent of all in-person sales." Yet, despite plastic being my payment method of choice, I'm not ready for a cashless society.
Digital Currency is Daunting
I'm hearing more and more about forms of digital currency. One of the most popular is Bitcoins. According to motherjones.com, " a Bitcoin is a unit of currency, launched in 2009, that only exists online and isn't controlled by any kind of central authority." While I haven't used Bitcoins yet, the virtual currency is certainly becoming more valuable. Back in August of 2012, "the exchange rate for 1 Bitcoin was about $10." Yet, in 2013, at times, one Bitcoin has been worth more than $200. However, like money, Bitcoins are not immune to crime and exchanges can be hacked. You can't use them everywhere and, yes, you should still pay taxes on your virtual currency earnings. Overall, the idea of digital money is a little daunting to me.
Online Money Exchanges
Despite not having a desire to mine digital currency, I am a fan of using e-commerce businesses like Paypal to receive and send money. With a few simple clicks, many online stores allow me to transfer funds electronically. Online money transfers are so much easier than, for instance, writing a check and waiting for it to go through. I also enjoy the convenience of e-gift cards.
I Spend Too Much With Plastic
When I use plastic instead of cash, I know I spend more money. If I go to the grocery store with $80 (cash only), I will probably spend $75 just to make sure I have enough money. I may put something back because I don't really need it. However, if I have my debit card with me, I'm likely to go over my budget simply because I know I have enough money in my bank account to cover the extra cost. Yet, overspending with plastic is pretty typical. In fact, according to a study from MIT, when people use cash, they usually spend "between 12 and 18 percent" less. This is a great reason to use the envelope system.
I Still Like Cash
I still like the tangible nature of cash. I like crisp dollars and shiny quarters. I also like being able to grab a few bucks and walk to get a pastry on a Saturday morning. I enjoy the clinking sound of quarters dropping into a vending machine. Without cash, what would happen to tipping jars and the pastime of throwing pennies into a fountain? And, wouldn't it be an odd site to see kids lining up at an ice cream truck with their smartphones just to buy an ice cream sandwich?
Plastic and electronic payments are convenient. While a cashless society may be in my future, I'll enjoy the choice to pay with cash, credit or Bitcoins!
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