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Physical cash payments feel like ‘free money’ to Gen-Z, new data reveals

Gen-Z think paying with physical cash feels like ‘free money’ compared to card transactions, new data has revealed.

Whilst 18-24s consider physical cash transactions to be ‘free money’ because there is no digital trace of the spend, older generations consider paying with physical cash to be more “real” than a card or digital transaction due to a physical exchange of money.

The recent survey of 2,000 participants was commissioned by after an emerging trend on Twitter saw users divided over whether physical cash payments feel free or not because there is no digital trace of the spending.

The data reveals a changing attitude towards cash from Gen-Z compared to older generations who have not grown up with digital banking.

It appears that how you feel about cash payments reveals how old you are.

When asked to pick how they feel about cash and credit transactions, the majority of 18-24 year old respondents agreed with the statement that “paying with cash feels like ‘free money’ because there is no trace of the cost in my online banking”.

However, the rest of the British population disagrees. The rest of the respondents, who were aged from 25 to 65+, all agreed that paying with cash feels more “real”.

Financial experts questioned respondents from different generations to understand why there is such a shift in attitudes. Older generations revealed that the physical act of handing over money makes a transaction feel more “real”, whereas younger generations revealed that because the physical cash spend doesn’t affect their online bank balance, they feel as though they haven’t paid for it out of their budget and therefore the transaction was essentially free.

The sentiment was reflected on Twitter.

Commenting on the phenomenon, Financial Expert Paul Wilson said:

“The survey results are a fantastic way to represent the changing attitudes towards cash in an increasingly digital society.”

“The stark contrast between the feelings of Gen-Z and their elders is to be expected, with most Zoomers having access to online banking for the majority of their financial experience.”

“It is the belief of many that card payment can be dangerous for overspending, which is mirrored in the feelings of the older generations. However the data indicates a change in attitude and perhaps younger generations will be more mindful with card payments than with cash spending.”

“According to the data, Zoomers (18-24 year olds) don’t subconsciously consider their cash to be part of their overall finances, which can be dangerous for young people going to uni and not correctly calculating their assets.”