One day about five years ago, I accidentally left home without my wallet. Despite my initial concerns about navigating the world without cash or cards, I managed to survive the day on purchases I made through various smartphone apps. In a way, this day without my wallet was liberating. These days, I rarely carry cash and I don't have an ATM card. As long as I have my smartphone and a credit card, I don't really need cash, and neither do you.
Not convinced? Let's talk about all the reasons you shouldn't carry cash.
First, cash can be incredibly inconvenient. Rarely is anything ever priced at a round number, so after you fork over your paper bills in exchange for a coffee, you're handed a heavy collection of change that weighs down your wallet or bulges in your pocket. At the end of the day, you strip down for bed and your leftover coins spill out onto the ground in a chorus of jangling metal. Inevitably, one lonesome quarter rolls lazily for 15 seconds before coming to a stop beneath your dresser, just out of reach. Annoying.
Then there's the problem with ATMs. Unless you manage to find a branch associated with your bank, you're going to pay a fee for your withdrawal. Not only are you charged by the ATM, you are then fined by your own bank for using another bank's ATM. As a result you end up paying something like $5 for access to your own money! My account is at a credit union, so finding an ATM that's in my network is nearly impossible.
I'm not alone in my hatred of ATMs. In a recent study, nearly 75 percent of customers said that, if they found something they really liked at a store, but didn't have cash on them and the store didn't take cards, they'd rather leave without making a purchase than be forced to find a cash machine.
Take comfort in the realization that, should you absolutely need cash, it's now super easy to pay someone back for a few borrowed bucks. Apps like Venmo make transferring money to someone's bank account completely painless. On the rare occasion that I do need cash, I can usually count on my husband to have a few 20s tucked away somewhere. And if he's tapped out, my 14-year-old daughter always has cash on hand. But again, this is pretty rare.
Finally, I don't carry cash anymore because I simply don't need to. More and more retailers and grocery stores are embracing Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. PayPal's app is now accepted at many chain stores including Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Home Depot, and Office Depot. Walmart and CVS have both developed their own payment apps while their competitors Target and RiteAid are working on their own apps.
Even restaurants are getting onboard. Sweetgreen recently announced it would no longer accept cash at many of its locations because cash purchases have declined to less than 10 percent, reports The New York Times. Other sit-down venues are allowing patrons to pay their bill with the OpenTable app instead of having to ask the waiter to bring the check. The app is priceless in a crowded restaurant with bad service, especially if you are squeezing in a quick dinner before a movie. Oh, and those movie tickets? They can be bought with the Fandango app. (But if you want popcorn and a soda, you'll need to break out your credit card.)
Already, nearly one in five Americans will use their phone to make an in-store purchase this year, an increase of 62 percent from last year, reports eMarketer. If you need a little added incentive to join those ranks, some restaurants, like Chipotle, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts, allow you to use your phone not just to pay, but to order ahead and skip the line. I will admit to being one of those people. Why wait in line when, by using an app, I can get my skim latte before the person I would have been standing behind makes it to the register? These apps offer loyalty perks, too, like freebies for frequent users and mobile-only coupons.
There's no time like the present to start fading out paper money. So I say: Empty your billfold, ditch your pocket full of coins, and embrace the digital wallet.