Cash Isn't King -- But Neither Are Credit Cards

I don't carry as much cash around as I used to a decade ago, and that's a trend that's happening across the nation, according to Reserve Bank figures. What's surprising there is that the balance isn't entirely being taken up by credit cards instead. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Reserve Bank figures, which saw ATM cash withdrawals fall from 65.6 million times last January down to 64.7 million times this past January. December's figures were even more stark; in December 2010 Australians made 73.6 million withdrawals, but by 2011 that was down to 71.9 million.

It'd be tempting to say that we've put it all on credit, but this doesn't appear to be the whole picture; while credit card limits did grow over the last twelve months, it was only up by 0.7 per cent, the smallest growth figure on record. That's because as a nation we're increasingly going digital with our money transfers; Internet-based transfers jumped 7.5 percent up to 60 million transactions in January. The Herald report quotes CommSec chief economist, Craig James:

"People don't want to carry cash around, welcome to the new age. The extent of the slide is staggering. Cash is losing its place as the primary method for making purchases and exchanging value."

While my own cash-carrying habits have changed (AKA it's-never-worth-mugging-a-journalist-for-their-pennies), I still favour a mixed approach; a little on-hand money plus cards, with most bills paid electronically where possible. How do you handle your money? [SMH] Photo Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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