Open your wallet. Amid the receipts, ticket stubs, credit cards, driver's license and family photos, is there any cash?
No? Join the crowd.
Only 1 in 5 Americans always carries cash. The rest more often use credit and debit cards. One consequence? More people may be overspending if they don't see their cold, hard cash changing hands.
That's one finding from research about how Americans regard cash these days, done by www.Coupon Codes4u.com, a money-saving website. Of those who said they don't always carry cash, one-third said they like having all their purchases on one credit-card statement, while another third admitted they struggle with keeping track of their cash.
Do they ever flash the green? One in 3 said cash comes in handy for tipping on a night out, and 1 in 4 said it's handy to carry for those markets that accept only currency.
The majority of those surveyed chalk up the carry-the-cash difference to generational attitudes. Older spenders say that cash helps limit spending because once it's gone, you're done -- a view backed up by Nicole Middendorf, CEO and financial adviser at Prosperwell Financial in Plymouth, Minn.
"The important word is 'conscious' -- that you're conscious of the money you're spending," she said. "It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to use cash, but that you be very responsible in how you track it."
Cash tightens your focus "because it's physically gone," but if you're opposed to carrying cash, she recommends writing down each transaction, just as you once used a check register. And, of course, there are apps for this.
"I liken it to food and weight loss," Middendorf said. "If you write down what you're eating, you know where you are on your diet. You want to do the same thing with your money."
(Reach Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Kim Ode at firstname.lastname@example.org. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com.)