Most Millennials Are Comfortable Not Carrying Cash

July 21, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Financial Services | Household Income | Youth & Gen X

Gallup-US-Adults-Tendencies-Carry-Cash-by-Age-Jul2016Almost two-thirds (62%) of American adults feel that it’s likely the US will be a cashless society in their lifetime, reports Gallup in recent survey results. Separate results from the study indicate that Millennials will be leading the charge to a cashless society. (And that’s not just because they likely have longer remaining lifetimes…)

Most young Americans, it seems, are already comfortable with the prospect of a cashless society. A majority (56%) of 18-29-year-olds surveyed said they’re comfortable not having cash, and only a minority (42%) have cash on them at all times.

In both cases, this is in direct contradiction to all other Americans. A majority of adults belonging to other generations always have cash on them, and only a minority are comfortable not having cash.

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There’s a strong age component in play, with these trends exacerbated among older respondents, as depicted in the chart above. Interestingly, though, expectations for a fully cashless US society are rather consistent across the oldest (65+; 63%) and youngest (18-29; 63%) age groups.

Still, there are reasons to believe that Millennials are willing to abandon cash. In a recently-released study, Marketing Financial Services to Millennials, MarketingCharts found that Millennials (18-34) were 13% less likely than the adult population to often prefer to pay cash for things they buy. The study also identified a particular subset of Millennials – affluent Millennials – who are the most likely to envision a cashless society. Affluent Millennials (those with investable assets larger than $100k) were also more likely than their overall generation to feel that banks will no longer by primary financial institutions.

In each case, Millennials over-indexed Gen Xers in these beliefs. Of note, on the issue of cash, the Gallup study indicates that Gen Xers (30-49) carry the most with them, averaging around $62 to Millennials’ $27. The analysts suggest this may be due to Gen Xers being in peak earning years and also in their child-rearing years – such that “they have access to more money, and they likely have more reasons to spend it.”

One look at this chart shows just how large an impact kids have on adults’ daily spending…

About the Data: The Gallup data is based on telephone interviews conducted June 22-23, 2016, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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