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Cashing out: How we pay is rapidly evolving

Ask around and you’ll notice a generally held assumption: The money habits of younger generations (like so many other things) must differ drastically from the older ones. We’re not talking what we choose to spend that money on…that’s another well-covered topic…but simply how we decide to complete the transaction. Cash or card — credit or debit — write a check or open an app?

As a whole, we rely less on cash than ever before. In 2016, 24 percent of Americans reported making all or most of their purchases with cash, down from 36 percent in 2011, according to a Gallup poll. The most pronounced drop in cash users? As expected, in those aged 23-34, which cut 18 percentage points in five years (21 percent from 39). But that shift spanned all age groups.

Hand-in-hand with the generational undercurrents, however, is the hyper-personal nature of anything money related. Ingrained preference blurs the lines of age assumptions — or so we suspected — so we went behind the statistics to get individual snapshots of local habits.

Caitlyn, 21

  • Cash on hand: $5
  • Pays for everything with…her debit card
  • Writes checks? Nope, doesn’t have them
  • Phone apps? Bank and Venmo

Katherine, 22

  • Cash on hand: $200
  • Pays for most things with…cash (bills with her debit card)
  • Writes checks? Never
  • Phone apps? Bank and Venmo

Adam, 33
North Buffalo

  • Cash on hand: $60
  • Pays for everything with…his credit card
  • Writes checks? About once or twice a month
  • Phone apps? Bank, Venmo, and PayPal

Andy, 38

  • Cash on hand: $13
  • Pays for everything with…his debit card
  • Writes checks? Years ago, but he has them on hand
  • Phone apps? None

Amy, 41
East Aurora

  • Cash on hand: $1…made up of two quarters and five dimes
  • Pays for everything with…her credit card (for the rewards)
  • Writes checks? Two weeks ago, mainly for home services
  • Phone apps? Venmo, but rarely uses it

Dave, 56
West Amherst

  • Cash on hand: $258…usually carry around $200
  • Pays for most things with…his credit card (small items with cash, bills with auto-payment)
  • Writes checks? Earlier this month for a wedding gift, though overall only a few per year
  • Phone apps? Amazon and occasionally Starbucks

Laura, 60

  • Cash on hand: $22
  • Pays for everything with…her credit card
  • Writes checks? About once a month, but only for a few specific items
  • Phone apps? Not for transferring money!

Spending habits | Buffalo Magazine

Venmo: The smartphone’s cash alternative

If you’re of a certain age, don’t despair if you don’t know what Venmo is. The app, most popular among millennials, links directly to your bank account or debit card and lets you send (or request) money from your friends. So in lieu of writing a friend a check to reimburse her for, say, buying your concert ticket, you can transfer money digitally via Venmo instead.

Payments can come directly from your linked account or from your Venmo balance — which is where payments you receive will live. You can cash out your balance at any time by transferring it back to your bank.

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