Monday, August 3, 2015

Cash and Panhandlers

As a general rule, I don't carry cash.  If I ever have cash it's because someone has paid me for something in cash, and it will soon be deposited, or because I have gotten cash from the bank for a specific reason and it will soon be leaving my wallet.  I am not unique in this attribute, as large numbers of people don't carry cash and it is increasing.  According to, 9% of Americana don't carry any cash, and 50%, if they have cash, carry less than $20.

Of course as a minister I  have people coming into my office seeking cash to help with something. It's very rare that we ever give any cash to people at the church, instead giving food or writing a check for rent or utilities. And if I am approached personally, my response is always, and quite honestly, I don't have any cash.  They might think I'm lying just to get rid of them, but for me its the truth.

That got me thinking the other day that as fewer and fewer people carry cash, and instead use debit/credit cards, is there a time in the near future in which either panhandling radically transforms to something else, or people stop giving cash and instead buy them water or a meal, etc? Of course this will also put a crunch in other areas, such as garage sales and other "off the book" transactions, and I wonder how they will be transacted?

I suspect that carrying cash is largely a generational issue, that is those younger don't carry cash, and so maybe it won't happen really soon, but it will be sooner rather than later.  The government will also play a role in what the future holds as they seek to make sure they get their portion, and so this will not just be decided by the marketplace.  I don't know what the answer is, but I am kind of curious how it will work itself out.

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