What Do You Like Better? Coins or Bills? Or Plastic?

Would you rather have coins or bills in your pocket? Or, are you more interested in the convenience offered by plastic and digital transactions?

I saw an interesting “Reader Quick Poll” a few months back from Consumer Reports. The poll looked at whether or not dollar bills were preferred to dollar coins.

The results were that 73% strongly preferred bills to coins, with 20% neutral, and 7% strongly preferring coins. I can understand the preference for bills. After all, they are lighter and easier to carry. It's easier to carry several dollar bills than it is to carry several dollar coins.

What about Plastic?

I'd be even more interested in seeing how many people prefer to carry plastic to carrying bills. I'd rather just carry my debit card and credit card than a wallet/purse stuffed with bills. Plastic is terribly convenient, since it takes care of all your payment needs in one swipe. I'm always at a bit of a loss when I have to pull out my cash. And, sadly, I often don't have enough cash, since I don't think of using it very much.

You do have to be careful, though. Study after study indicates that you are more inclined to spend more when you use ?plastic. Additionally, it can be difficult to keep track of how much you have spent in some cases. It's easy to swipe it and forget it. One of the reasons that credit can be so devastating is that it's easy to forget how much you've actually spent.

This is why I keep track of everything that I spend. I keep receipts, and when I get home, I enter them into my personal finance software. That way, I know exactly how much I'm spending.

Going Digital

It's even easier to spend money when it's all digital. Sometimes, I'm not even sure that my husband is at all aware of how much he spends buying things online. With digital transactions, you don't even have to go through the motion of pulling a card out of your wallet. Shopping is increasingly becoming digital, with the ability to keep your credit cards on your smart phone just around the corner, and even the ability to use PayPal to pay for purchases at a brick and mortar store.

In the future, you might not even have to carry a wallet or purse around at all.

What do you think? What is your preferred form of money? And why?

Image source: Sanathanurasilva via Wikimedia Commons

5 thoughts on “What Do You Like Better? Coins or Bills? Or Plastic?”

  1. Christopher Brooks

    I traveled in Europe a few summers ago. They use a lot more coins there, and it reaffirmed my dislike of them (coins, not the Europeans!).

    I?m all about plastic. Although I manage to keep my spending in check with it, I will say nothing is a better spending deterrent than having to painfully hit up the ATM constantly.

  2. Nice article. Still I am wondering if any paper vs plastic studies have been closer to real life. The study referenced by the linked article is with college students for a single purchase decision. Does that really extrapolate to a regular budget of say, $2000 per month?

    1. Miranda Marquit

      That would be really interesting to see. I wonder, if you have a budget, and stick to it, if it matters so much. Besides, many of us make bigger purchases on credit cards anyway — since it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry so much cash around.

      1. I maintain that, in a serious study, the data would show that there are two groups, the “pay in full” (PIF) and the “carry balance month to month.”(CB) (That’s obvious, right?) I suspect, the PIF would show no impact at all based on payment method, but the CB group certainly would, as they’ve already exhibited the first symptoms of those willing to spend beyond their means. The real question is whether one can become responsible and move from one group to the other.

        A number of us PFers have suggested that using a card to buy only the (a) monthly non-discretionaries such as gas and cable, etc, and (b) the items such as electronics where you have the cash, but the card will add a layer of insurance, usually for a year beyond the manufacturer warranty.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top