Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's in Your Wallet?

Consider these findings by Scott Fulford, Claire Greene and William Murdock III, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as part of their study of U.S. consumers' holdings of $1 bills based on data from the 2012 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, a national online survey tracking payments made by participants over a three day period during October 2012.  2,467 people ages 18-94 participated in the survey and reported 12,647 transactions for combined spending of $453,655.

  • About 64% of adults 18 years or older start the day with at least one dollar bill on their person.  The median holding is two dollar bills; the mean is slightly below three dollar bills.  Hardly anyone had more than ten dollar bills in his or her pocket.   To compare, the median holding in cash (all bill denominations) is $27.  The mean is larger at $62 dollars.  Some people carry a large amount of cash.
  • For consumers who hold some cash on their persons, 71% of the consumers who started the day with no dollar bills ended the day with none.
  • Around 50% of consumers make at least one transaction with cash on any given day.
  • Consumers appear to be managing their dollar bills actively.  Consumers who start the day with few dollar bills tend to acquire some during the day.  Consumers with many dollar bills at the start of the day tend to end the day with fewer dollars.
  • People who make a transaction during a day tend to gain one dollar bills in larger numbers than they lose dollar bills.  The median gain of dollar bills over the course of a day is three bills; the median loss is two bills.

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