Cash May Be an Endangered Species

We've relied on physical representations money for most of human history. Whether it's coins, cuneiform tablets, or fancy pieces of paper, there's something immediately understandable about cash. But the 21st century is all about disruption — and we could be well on our way to a nearly cashless future.

It's not entirely weird, as a concept. Some other countries are pretty over cash, and there are, universally, some scenarios in which electronic money is a better and safer option. According to new data from the Pew Research Center, some of us are fading out from cash already: Just under one-third of Americans say that during a typical week, they make no purchases at all with cash. Even the number of people who live a cash-only life is decreasing, from about 1 in 4 in 2015 to less than 1 in 5 today.

There are generational splits, of course, as well as socioeconomic splits. If your annual income is $30,000 a year or less, you tend to rely on cash more than if your annual income is $75,000 or more. But according to Pew, "just under half (46 percent) of Americans 'don't really worry much about whether they have cash with them, since there are lots of other ways to pay for things.'"

Whether you rely on credit or debit cards, mobile banking, or even cryptocurrencies, there are drawbacks as well as positives. But some things remain constant. Staying smart about how you use and earn your money will always be one of them.