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Is The Cash Under Your Mattress Dead Yet?

by Pippa Starr

15 July, 2020

Cash is king! Cash is everything!

At least that's what I was taught.

That sweet envelope freshly inked with the numbers that represented reward for your blisters at the end of each week meant something. Didn't it?

As you tore off the end and smelt that sweet musky yet alluring odour of those paper notes neatly folded, it was a ritual that a lot of us used to enjoy. I know I did. It meant reward for pushing my body through the sleep barrier each day. It meant that the residual odours from the food I cooked seeping through my body and increasingly staining my olfactory each day was worth something. It meant copping abuse from ungrateful customers was rewarded somehow. It helped to cushion the blow from being on the receiving end of the arrogance of an aspiring franchise managers’ assistant manager.

When you sat down and allocated those sweet notes into various glass jars to ensure you had enough to keep the lights on and petrol in the car,

you knew you had a chance of making it through another week.

It was a tangible experience as you made that final shake of those few coins from the bottom of that ripped envelope to see if there was at least enough left for some two minute noodles and frozen vege to give you enough sustenance to get through the next week of torture.

This was the experience, at least for a lot of people in the early days of their career.

In the last 25 years, most of us have become seemingly immune to that as our once cash stained budgeting jars are now a distant memory. Now replaced with decimal points and numbers on our smart phones we have control of our money in a lot more compact form, but do we?

Previously, we could have that secret stash for a rainy day hidden under the mattress.

Can we do that anymore?

A law due to be passed this year will make it more difficult to partake in any single transaction that exceeds $10000 in folding sweet cash. Why?

Are we effectively handing over our rights to hold large sums of cash?

The Australian Government Senate committee said:

“Based on the evidence provided, the committee agrees that non-cash payment methods create clearer records; are usually more convenient for consumers and businesses; and increasingly involve lower costs, as they simplify record keeping and avoid the security, insurance and other costs associated with handling and holding cash,”

The viewpoint of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) is that a $10,000 cash limit would help level the playing field in certain industries, such as building and construction, where cash transactions are common and encouraged.

What does that mean for us?

It can mean that in this internet age as we fast approach the age of an inevitable world where artificial intelligence will exceed us humans, when our super smart gadgets that have slipped into our lives that seemingly watch our every move, our rights to have a private stash of sweet cash is fast becoming a thing of the past.

With the onset of covid19 we have been presented with further unprecedented challenges. The easy transfer of the corona virus on our bank notes and coins has meant that a lot of businesses are now no longer taking cash. The use of cash was on a rapid decline prior to covid19; however, the use has even declined further, especially as we purchase online now more than ever.

What does that mean for that secret stash for a rainy day though?

Are our hard-earnt funds stashed in that special “rainy day” bank account exposed to the government?

There are some instances when the government can take money from your bank account. This generally occurs in situations where you have an outstanding government debt. Before it can take money from your bank account, the government authority owed money would first need to issue a garnishee notice.

A garnishee notice is issued by the government agency (such as Centrelink or the ATO) to a third party that holds money for you or owes you money.

To take money from your bank account, your bank would be issued with the garnishee notice requiring it to pay ‘your money’ to the requesting agency to satisfy the debt.

Should you draw out your cash in case the bank system collapses?

If you do this, you would be the reason for banks collapsing.

Some of the larger banks would be covered in almost any event if we all mass panicked and began withdrawing all our cash from those rainy-day accounts, but it would hurt us all at the end of the day.

Australians' savings are guaranteed by the Federal Government under the Financial Claims Scheme. The scheme provides protection to deposits up to $250,000 held in banks, building societies and credit unions, and to policies with general insurers in the unlikely event that one of these financial institutions failed.

While it appears that those days of sweet-smelling cash breaking out of the envelopes are over, we need to remember that regardless of what some conspiracy theorists are saying, the safest place for our cash is not under the mattress or pillow.

A fully cashless system is almost inevitable at some point. For now, we have the right to keep a sum of bank notes stashed under the mattress, but is it going to be protected?

Sure, money seems like it is no longer a tangible commodity once it appears only as a figure on our smart phone app, however it is what it is for now.

This is the system we work in. We might not like it and find it difficult to adjust, especially some of us pushing towards retirement and beyond, but there is no better alternative in this era of a fundamentally flawed financial and political system,

Is there?

I welcome your thoughts and views on this topic in the comments below.

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