Friday, June 18, 2021

Short Takes: Future of Cash Edition

Like many people, I’ve been enjoying the good weather as much as possible lately.  As a result, I haven’t done much writing, so I thought I’d reflect on the effect the pandemic has had on the use of cash.

Understandably, people have been nervous about handling cash through the pandemic.  Many people stopped using it, and some retailers refused to take it.  I’m curious about what will happen as we come out of the pandemic.

Will most people who sometimes used cash before the pandemic go back to it?  Will some retailers continue to refuse cash?  Banks would certainly like to see the end of cash so they can be assured of getting their cut of every transaction.  No doubt some retailers like the information they can gather about their customers when they use cards.

I’d like to see cash remain an option wherever I go.  Then those who prefer to use a card can do so, and those who want to use cash can do so.  In some contexts, I like the anonymity of paying cash, and at the end of the month, I prefer not to have a credit card statement riddled with small purchases.

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Tom Bradley at Steadyhand
explains why it’s better to focus on total return rather than dividend yield.

The Rational Reminder Podcast brings us a sensible discussion of the decision to rent or buy a home.


  1. Given house prices in Ottawa are up 25% year over year, surely they are a great investment? No, a house is a place to live, Bitcoin is currency and neither are "investments".

    1. Hi Alan,

      That's the way I see it, but the groups that see both as investments are large and vocal.

  2. Get rid of cash. Ask anyone in retail, cash is disgustingly dirty and that was the case long before our concerns of it transfering germs and COVID.

    Further, it should be eliminated for the wellbeing of the nation. I've read reports that upwards of 85% of the physical cash in circulation is connected to either organized crime or tax evasion.

    As for fees, bank with Tangerine or Simplii and pay nothing for unlimited debit transactions.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      I disagree, and that 85% stat sounds made up. Since cash is spent over and over, almost every bill has been involved in good and bad transactions. For now there are some ways of avoiding paying fees for transactions, but who knows what the future will hold. Nobody should be forced to use cash, but I prefer to have the option.

    2. Hi Aaron,
      we are robbed daily by companies that have nothing to do with crime as it is traditionally understood (black market, drugs, racketeering - these are so 20th century). All these companies avoid paying taxes fully legally by shifting their profits to tax-free countries.

  3. I have switched to card for 2 reasons:
    1. convenience. I often do not know how much cash I have in my valet
    2. economics: all prices include bank fees for use of cards. If I pay cash I pay for nothing. If I use card I get some of these fees back. I am aware that when I use credit card and loyalty cards I give away my personal information, which has made Google and Fb as rich as they are. I can't do much about being robbed, but at least I get cashback.

    1. Hi AnatoliN,

      I'm all for people making choices that suit them. If not handling cash works for you, that's great.