With Father’s Day approaching, I couldn’t help but think about my dad. He died many years ago, but I still miss him. One thing that came to mind about him and made me chuckle was his apparent inability to carry cash. It prompted me to recall some interesting situations and to think more about cash then and now.
No cash in his pocket
My dad just never had any money with him, even though he had the wherewithal to do so. He had his own business—a machine shop—and was a solid middle-class guy. But he usually went cashless. He rarely had change to pay the toll on the bridge he had to cross each day to and from work. In fact, the folks in the toll booth station on the bridge were on a first name basis. (Yes, we tried to put cash in the glove compartment, but it ran out and he was cashless once more.) My mom had to pay the $2 cost of their marriage license because he didn’t have any bills on him that day. And my mom carried cash, so he wasn’t at a loss.
But his (and our) life changed in 1950 when the Diners Club credit card was issued. He may not have been the first to get one, but he was an early user. The first credit card was cardboard and didn’t become plastic until 1961. It was designed for use at restaurants, hotels, and car rentals. In the 1960s, other credit cards debuted, including credit cards for use at gas stations. My dad loved his credit cards! Today, the Diners Club credit card is essentially a Mastercard.
My dad would have felt right at home today because we are becoming a cashless society. According to Dave Ramsey: “A cashless society is a society where all physical money (cash, checks and coins) is completely and totally replaced by digital currency—and that includes replacing debit and credit cards too.”
We still hear the phrase “cash is king,” but we don’t have a king in the U.S.; we have PayPal, ApplePay, Venmo, and Zelle to pay for even the most modest consumer goods, such as a cup of coffee. And Bitcoin and other digital currencies are also being used to pay for goods and services. So, the paperless society hawked back in the 1970s hasn’t come about, but the cashless society is already or at least becoming reality for many.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, stepdads, and other people who parent children.