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8 in 10 Americans have less than $50 on them

A new survey shows Americans' declining reliance on cash for transactions.

By MSN Money Partner May 15, 2014 12:48PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyHow much cash do you have in your wallet right now?

If you're like the vast majority of Americans, you don't have much. Half of Americans say they carry less than $20 each day.

Man Taking Money Out of Wallet © NULL/CorbisThat's from a new survey by It reaffirms what most people already know: Cash is no longer king.

There has been a substantial decline in Americans' reliance on cash, as alternatives like credit and debit cards and mobile phone payment apps have gained popularity.

"If we move to a truly cashless society, it won't be much of an adjustment for most Americans," said Greg McBride, CFA,'s chief financial analyst.

"The vast majority of Americans carry $50 or less on a daily basis, which seems to indicate that it's more out of necessity than a desire to pay with cash," McBride said.

On average, men carry more cash than women. About 86 percent of women carry less than $50, compared with 70 percent of men.

The following results show what you'd find if you opened up wallets across the country:

  • More than $100. Just 7 percent of Americans carry a Benjamin or more on a daily basis.
  • Less than $50. About 8 in 10 Americans carry less than $50.
  • None. About 9 percent of people don't carry any cash at all.

I'm with the 1 in 10 who carry no cash. I pay for almost everything with my debit card. I also live in a small town, so if I forget my debit card, most businesses still accept personal checks.

How much cash do you carry?

More from Money Talks News

May 15, 2014 8:05PM
That's very funny!  This  article  assumes that we have any pocket cash to begin with!  With what I have to pay for rent, (always going up, or threatening to),  what I earn (STILL less than I was making in 2001!),  gas to get to work, insurance for the car, etc., groceries and other expenses,  it is a wonder that I have even $40.00 in my pocket to last me 2 weeks !  And I work full time !
May 15, 2014 8:18PM
Cash?? whats that???     Gee after getting paid from my job, paying the rent and bills with debit, then trying to stretch the few dollars I have left over for food, Id be lucky if I have a buck left. The only cash I ever have is the few coins I might find on the ground....  most of us don't carry cash is because we don't have any to carry...... I make  more now than 10 years ago, but my bills are higher and I have less bills today then I did then, I keep cutting, But food cost more, bills cost more and don't let me go into insurance cost..  !0 years ago I would of had at the least , $50.00 to $100.00 cash spending money in my pocket.  Some thing is wrong here.  everything goes up except my paycheck, My take home pay is going down, even with the raises I get.    
May 15, 2014 8:17PM
I worked hard to have $50 in my pocket.  Then Obama told me and all other Americans that he would give us an affordable healthcare.  Despite the promise of politicians like Pelosi, Reid, and Obama I was not able to keep my existing health insurance.  I wasn't able to keep my doctor.  I wasn't even able to fill my subscriptions at the same pharmacy.  I was forced to buy a different health insurance that cost about the same but the deductible is much higher.  The worse part is that the new health insurance doesn't use my old pharmacy and the pharmacy where I am now forced to go is much higher.  That pharmacy has my $50 and more in their pocket.  I am an ex-democrat turned Independent.  My hard work to have $50 in my pocket didn't pay off so I am now doing the hard work to ensure that the last of Obama's term is served as a dead duck president that can't get any more of his damaging agendas through.  It is just self defense.
May 15, 2014 7:04PM
Cash is no longer king....buying things with money you don't have is.
May 15, 2014 3:50PM

with the current economy and taxes it is a wonder we have any cash ...  we are acting like the government  by putting everything on a charge card hoping we can push the debt down the road and pay for it in the future... 

May 16, 2014 8:01AM
I started to date again, been broke since.
May 15, 2014 4:00PM

I learned a long time ago to not carry more than about $20.  When I have cash, it just seems to disappear, and I don't even remember spending it.


It may not work for everybody, but using my debit card to pay for this instead of cash really does help me manage my budget better.  I waste less money, too.


The last paragraph in this article made me chuckle, though:


"...if I forget my debit card, most businesses still accept personal checks."


Checks?  Really?  They need to do a new poll to find out how many Americans still walk around with their checkbooks handy.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be willing to bet that percentage has decreased, too.

May 16, 2014 1:24AM
Had to get up and look in my money clip. there is $124 in it.

I always carry cash. Can't wrap my head around not having cash on me. Feels naked. Plus I always carry  4 quarters in the event I need to make a phone call, and don't have my cell phone, (I sometimes leave it at home just for peace and quiet) or if the battery goes dead. Although that is unlikely, haven't had a battery go dead on me in over 10 years.

May 15, 2014 2:17PM
I have less than $100 on me per week. I use cash to pay for groceries and other small items, like buying a burger at Burger King. I use credit to pay for gas for my car or anything that is bigger than $50. 

So we're not totally cashless yet, for not everyone is using credit for everything. 
May 15, 2014 11:56PM
I have over $200 on me right now and I usually have more. Bought too much ammo the last few weeks.
May 15, 2014 3:53PM
Try to use the cards that give the most points with no fees
May 15, 2014 3:53PM
if we become a cashless society then lets make everything free that would be great I cant afford anything
May 15, 2014 8:27PM
NEVER NEVER use your debit card to purchase anything.  Use it only for getting cash.   You may think that since nobody has your pin number they cannot use your card.   Wrong pal.  Hundreds of companies will accept only the card number to pay for merchandise.   You will find that you have bought video games, books etc. with your debit card.  If you do not have on line banking, it could be months before you know what happened.
May 16, 2014 9:29AM
Yes definitely. I am old school and spent many years scratching to get by, living pay check to pay check and never having any cash to spare. I know it is just pure vanity, but I like to have a couple hundred in cash on me at all times. It provides me a sense of accomplishment and comfort.
May 15, 2014 10:15PM
I typically withdraw $200 whenever I hit the ATM, for misc. expenses, gas, beer, an occasional lunch ... and then I replenish it when I run low ... but right now I have exactly $2 in my pocket ... guess it's time to hit the ATM again.
May 15, 2014 3:59PM
What's cash? Oh I remember, t\That green folding paper that's value is based on a rock...
May 16, 2014 2:42AM
when you pay for gas with credit card you pay more. I always pay cash for gas and make sure I have enough cash for whatever purpose I have for day or week. $50 ain't gonna cut it.
May 16, 2014 10:21AM
I use almost all cash. I have a debit card that is used for a few things... I still write checks for bills and I still keep a written ledger also. For my age, I'm a dying breed. But I'm trying to pull out of debt and so I don't use credit and when my cash is gone, it's gone.
May 16, 2014 8:13AM
I carry more than $100 and proud of it. I do use credit cards but manage the funds I have and live within my means. My fixed income is enough to produce a nice life style. I do drive a 13 year old GM car that is reliable and a cell phone too. Life is good.
May 16, 2014 9:53AM
Can you live with change ?  (1.69 in your pocket ) YES YOU CAN . Can you enjoy continuous lying by your "president"  ? YES YOU CAN !
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