For years, I tossed any coins in my pocket into a change jar at the end of every day. Once or twice a year, I’d roll the coins, deposit them at the bank and put the proceeds toward our next vacation.
The pandemic ended that routine, and it looks like many others are distancing themselves from cash, too. Payments Canada reports that 58 per cent of Canadians used less cash in the pandemic and 40 per cent are uncomfortable even handling it. The volume and value of cash transactions fell 16 per cent last year from 2019 levels.
More than one-third of Canadians say they don’t expect to pick up where they left off using cash before the pandemic, Payments Canada said in its 2021 Methods and Trends report. About 37 per cent said they avoided shopping at stores that didn’t accept contactless payment via card or smartphone app.
This past summer, I grabbed up all the coins I’d accumulated up until the March 2020 lockdown and cashed them in at the bank. I’m done with coins and maybe with bills as well. A $10 bill has been stuck in my wallet for a while now.
As I mentioned in a recent column, my favourite method of payment right now is Google Pay, which I use for contactless debit and credit transactions through my smartphone. My backup is plastic. If a seller only accepts cash, I politely exit.
Payments Canada says using up coins and bills on hand is one of the main reasons why people used cash for purchases. Suggestion: bundle up any cash you have on hand, deposit it at the bank and never look back.
Another reason cited for using cash is speed and convenience. Actually, contactless payment rules on both those counts. People also seem to like using cash for small transactions, but you can tap your way through tiny transactions with no issue.
I’m not 100 per cent done with cash. Before a vacation in Newfoundland this summer, I added some cash to my wallet on a just-in-case basis. After our plane landed late at night at the airport in Deer Lake, the harried taxi service was unable to process debit and I paid with a $20 bill.
We’re now on the edge of October and I haven’t touched cash since. Let’s see how far I can take life cash-free.
PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST
The Globe and Mail, September 30, 2021