More Americans Plan Gifts Of Cash This Year

A Western Union survey proves that perhaps the American public is taking the message of Consumerist’s anti-gift card to heart. Instead of tangible gifts or gift cards, more Americans are reportedly giving each other the gift of versatile, useful cash.

According to the survey, 44 percent of consumers say that they plan to give someone in their lives cash as a gift this holiday season.

Americans used to consider giving cold, hard cash at Christmas too and impersonal. But the sheer need for liquidity during tough economic times – and people’s recognition that they ought to be better prepared in the future – has helped remove the stigma.

“People are asking for more cash. Consumers are saying they have other priorities,’’ said NPD Group’s chief retail analyst, Marshal Cohen, who is projecting a boost in cash as gifts this holiday season. “They would love the gift, but they need to pay off their grocery bill before they start worrying about a Polo shirt.’’

People are also opening savings accounts and CDs on behalf of their loved ones. Giving the gift of saving rather than spending? How refreshing!

Cold cash gains new warmth as holiday gift in hard times [Boston Globe]

(Thanks, RandomHookup!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. tbax929 says:

    I have never had a problem with people giving me cash as a gift (or for any other reason, actually). I know there was a time when it was considered tacky, but I always thought that was just one of those silly rules that nobody actually believed.

  2. Ronin Democrat says:

    I plan the gift of good will toward all men -and women-

    here is how you pare down your gift list:
    did they give you birthday gift/do they know when your birthday is….
    easy as pie

    • tbax929 says:

      I do something similar to that. I ask myself those questions, but not with regard to my birthday; I ask them with regard to last Christmas: “Does this person send me a Christmas card?” If so, I send them one. “Did this person give me a gift?” If so, I give them a gift.

      Of course, I’m in a relationship this Christmas and wasn’t last Christmas, so I now how to buy gifts for a few folks who weren’t in my life last year… but that’s the gist of how I choose who gets a gift from me.

  3. montusama says:

    I would rather have the cold hard cash than a gift card any time, especially when your mom decides to get you a gift card for JCPenney’s when you work there that year.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    I suspect another reason for this is that a lot of folks NEED cash at the moment considering the economy and recession. Sure, gifts are nice, but if what you really need is to be able to make your rent payment next month or get current on your mortgage or pay off a credit card, cash is can be the greatest gift of all.

  5. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I asked my mother for my birthday & Christmas not to get me gift card(s), but money towards the bunk bed I have on layaway for my daughter… all of a sudden, a bunch of my family members started throwing me cash. It was great!

    Moral of the story? I think, if your family/friends know it’s either for a good cause or a better future, then they are more than willing.

    • tbax929 says:

      Agreed. When I graduated college (at age 35), the one thing I needed most was cash. So I respectfully suggested cash in lieu of gifts. I got lots of cash at my party.

    • LadyTL says:

      I disagree. That only applies when your family actually cares about you and your wellbeing. My family perfered to let me starve in college rather than either sign me up for the full meal plan or send me some money to eat on weekends. I unfortunately couldn’t find a job at that time.

    • ngoandy says:

      Yeah, that seems to be the only respectable time to give cash.

      I give cash for weddings, graduations, and when someone has a kid or something. Those are times when you need cash.

      I’d rather no gift than cash for random Christmas’s (Christmasii??) and birthdays.

  6. mbz32190 says:

    A WESTERN UNION survey? Anyone else think theres a little bit of bias in that?

  7. teh says:

    As much as I’m in favor of giving cash in lieu of gift cards, Western Union is about the sleaziest, most unreliable way I can think of do do that. Hell, I think it might even be safer to mail the bills.

    • Coles_Law says:

      It would be safer to tape the bills to the leg of a carrier pigeon. Cheaper too.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I hear the carrier pigeon industry has fallen short lately. Budget cuts. But I hear the owls are picking up the slack though.

    • Alys Brangwin says:

      Hey, don’t knock Western Union. It’s the preferred service of Nigerian princes!

    • RockaRolla says:

      I once sent money to a friend in need in another state. Western Union would only accept cash, not even a debit card. When she picked it up at the wester union office, they would only give her a check. There she was stuck in some small town with no local bank account and a check no one would cash. For this I paid something like 12%. Sleazy doesn’t begin to cover it.

  8. subtlefrog says:

    My parents are retired, and not raking in the dough, yet somehow refuse to believe that their two kids are financially not in need. Admittedly, I’m a graduate student who has spent my entire adult life teetering on the edge, but I’m finally stable (thank you NSF stipend, thank you).

    For the past few years at Christmas, I’ve asked them to please not send me anything, or if they HAVE to, here’s a nice charity, please contribute to that. Nope, not gonna, flat out refuse! Instead, I get a check from my parents who eat crappy food because they “can’t afford” the good stuff. I call shenanigans.

    I’m sorry – I think I went a littl OT and turned that into a rant.

    • kexline says:

      Meh, I enjoy comments like that. Well, maybe “enjoy” is inappropriate for your particular post, but I think they add to the site.

      Anyway, that’s not why I’m replying .. I just wanted to say, hey, at least it’s a check and not a cat-shaped over-the-door hook and some uncomfortable shoes. If my parents give me cash, I can weasel it back into their household in the form of gifts, incidentals, and “lost” $20 bills. If I get a cat-shaped over-the-door hook, all I can do is say, “Gosh, this is so cute, and I think I can find somewhere to use this, but my apartment is so full, so please don’t buy me stuff.” Because awkward situations lead to run-on sentences, see.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Do they ask you whether you’re going to be bringing laundry home when you visit, or whether they need to pull out your childhood baseball sheets? I mean, it might be slightly awkward, but it sounds like you need to have a serious sit down with them. If they’re actually in need of money, it seems like they simply don’t believe that you don’t.

  9. metsarethe... says:

    Cash – The ULTIMATE gift card!!!

  10. TopcatF14B says:

    Why are gifts so commonplace? Why do people feel obligated to buy shit for other people? Why not just pay down bills and stop buying useless crap for everyone else.

    I think only kids should get gifts from family (4-16 years old) everyone else should just worry about significant others…at most a card for parents or other family.

    From the people I know it seems that gifts are a constant “one-uppance” based on what they got you the year before or what they feel obligated to get you this year, it is a stupid tradition and I have no doubt that it is partially to blame for people always being broke and transferring balances from one credit card to another after the holidays.

    • dvdchris says:


    • henrygates3 says:

      Agreed. Every year I tell people in my family just to send me pictures for our albums. 50 cents at Walgreens. I’ve never actually gotten a single photo.

    • ElizabethD says:

      We’ve come to this conclusion also: Gifts are for the kids. (although we do include our now-older kids in this equation) I have the most fun buying a gift and stocking-stuffers for our four-year-old granddaughter. Our older kids get money and stocking gifts, that’s it. Husband and I ask, loud and clear, for NO GIFTS but the kids do fill our stockings, which is fun.

      We just spent nearly a year, in 2006, getting rid of about 1/3 of our possessions as we prepared to move into a smaller house with no attic or basement. It was cleansing and also emphasized how modest our true needs are. I’ve tried to avoid a drift back into thing-accumulation.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t know…we really enjoy giving gifts. Mr. Pi’s parents and my parents are a lot alike; they don’t really have need of anything, but aren’t up to date with the latest gadgets which may make their hobbies more fun, or more interesting. So we try to get them things in that respect, because they’d never discover them on their own. And we have relatives who are young, and they get educational gifts. And we also have family members who are just now getting out of college, and they’re facing tough times – they’re not kids anymore, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need money, or better clothes to wear to job interviews.

      • Daemon Xar says:

        I’m with Pi. Giving gifts is just plain fun.

        At this point, most of my friends/family are at a place in life where if they want anything that would fall into a reasonable gift category, they’ve probably already bought it for themselves. So it becomes a challenge to find something that I think they’d like but have never heard of. I tend to end up giving people books, music, and occasionally a tech-toy. But I don’t give gifts because I feel obligated to do so–I want to. It feels good to see someone’s eyes light up as they open or use a present. Particularly when the person in question is someone like my dad, who is notoriously difficult to find gifts for.

  11. Winteridge2 says:

    That’s what I would love as a gift any time of the year. The gift that keeps on giving.

  12. Magspie says:

    I don’t know, I think cash is a good gift for kids, or for parents (or aunts and uncles or grandparents) to give to their grown kids. It seems kind of lame though for me to give my sister $20 and her to give me $20.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Agreed. My grandparents would always give me cash ever since I was like 12 or something because they had no idea what to buy for my horse, which was my perpetual money pit. However, I would never give cash to my sisters/parents/good friends.

  13. jayphat says:

    I plan on giving everyone Monopoly money. In about 3 or 4 years, it will have the same value as cash.

  14. ngoandy says:

    I take this survey as meaning more adults are being scammed into giving cash gifts to ‘family’ that happen to be stuck in foreign countries.

    What else is Western Union used for?

  15. cmdr.sass says:

    Western Union? Are all those gifts of cash going to Nigeria?

  16. johnnya2 says:

    I’ll stick with gift cards that are over valued (ie I buy $100 worth dn get $120 worth of cards). Cash can never do that

  17. wordofmouse says:

    My boyfriend and I are using all of our Christmas gifts (cash) to pay our January rent. We’ll keep the money we would have normally paid from our account set aside for a rainy day.

  18. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    there have been times when i wanted to give a friend cash for a gift because they really needed it. like deadbeat dad didn’t come through, begging for rides to the church food bank needed it. but had repeatedly turned down cash due to pride.
    so i gave gift cards to the grocery store. i don’t think i have ever encountered a grocery store gift card that even needed to have a non activity or maintenance fee.
    they get used within days so far as a i have seen

    but there’s more than one person i know getting either cash, food or a bill paid as a gift from me this year. i still have a job at least

  19. emingtonems says:

    I don’t know about giving cash… I think it’s sort of thoughtless, the same as giftcards. Like “I don’t know you well enough to chose an appropriate gift, so here’s some money to keep you quiet”. And fyi, you don’t need to spend money to give someone something. You can give them one of your paintings (if you’re a painter, like me) or a craft of yours, or you can bake for them. I suppose some monetary investment is required as well as time, but it’s certainly better, in my opinion, then handing someone money (especially if you’re poor enough as it is and if you just hand someone a fiver they kind of look at you like you’re insane).

    • kexline says:

      I don’t have the confidence to give my pots out as gifts yet. I guess I have a few times, when someone has asked me if I know how to make something and leaves the conversation without any expectations, then a few months later I surprise them with whatever they wanted. And they’ve all seemed delighted when I do that. But I don’t like giving stuff I just randomly make, because even though *I* like a lot of it, I’m not ready to demand that other people assign value to it.

      Also, to the impersonality of money — I agree. But if someone is in that situation and feels obligated, I wish they’d just give money. It’s not different at all (except in the case of a value-added card, as someone pointed out upthread.)

      I’m giving all my brother’s kids money this year. I enjoy finding gifts for my nieces, but their brother is an ungracious little hey look I’m posting under my real name, so, um … angel. Ungracious little angel. He’s well past the point where decent manners can reasonably be expected, so I’ve decided not to spend meaningful amounts of time looking for yet another exciting gift that will go over like a lead balloon. But I’m not yet willing to single him out by getting the girls gifts, so it’s twenties all ’round.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Honestly, if someone is in need of money – any gift you give is going to be kind, and nice, but ultimately unhelpful. The idea behind cash isn’t simply that it’s a gift, but that it’s one of the most helpful gifts you can give to someone who truly needs money. That’s a nice painting, or craft, or a nice batch of cookies you have there – but it isn’t really going to help someone who needs help paying rent.

      • emingtonems says:

        A gift is supposed to be something nice and a little frivolous, not something so utilitarian… if a friend is in need of money they’re basically sol because I have none either. I’d rather help them get a job (with my lists of contacts) and maybe feed them a meal (how is cooking not a useful gift for someone who doesn’t have money?) …. Giving them money directly feels like I’m obligating them towards me and I don’t like to do that.

  20. Dee says:

    I have no problem receiving cash from family members. I still feel a little odd about receiving cash from friends or giving cash to friends. Would also love to see a survey done by a different company!

  21. Dee says:

    I love getting cash – I could definitely use it. But I still don’t know about getting cash from friends. I have no problems with family members. I received a check from some friends as a wedding present (we did have a registry) and while I appreciated it, it still felt a little awkward.

    Would love to see a survey done by a different company though.

  22. sonneillon says:

    And with deflation your cash is appreciating in value and not being whittled down by fees.

  23. H3ion says:

    Maybe it’s a generational thing but we were always taught that it was bad manners to give cash. That if you couldn’t be troubled to go out and find something you thought the recipient would really like, that you were somehow deficient.

    With gifts getting out of hand, we finally limited gifts only to the children (say, up to college graduation) but continued to try to find something other than cash. Gift cards were never an option.

    This year, the kids are getting gifts and the older kids are getting Euros. They’re probably worth more than dollars.

  24. u1itn0w2day says:

    Ah yes Thanksgiving to Xmas Day a season contrived for sheeple and made by sheeple for the pursuit of happiness or the almighty dollar .

    Why should one feel obligated to give a gratuitous gift to someone they only see a couple of times of year or wouldn’t even treat to a value meal at Micky D’s in July .

    I hate to say it though rather than pretend you know what someone really wants or can use cash or a gift card is the way to go . I know people who have 10 year old unused gifts in their original gift boxes from 10 years ago . It’s bad enough you get those gratuitous cards from your doctor which don’t say seasons greetings but please keep coming to us – like we really care …

  25. Winteridge2 says:

    Cash? You mean like money? Do people still use that stuff?