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For years, I tossed any coins in my pocket into a change jar at the end of every day. Once or twice a year, I’d roll the coins, deposit them at the bank and put the proceeds toward our next vacation.

The pandemic ended that routine, and it looks like many others are distancing themselves from cash, too. Payments Canada reports that 58 per cent of Canadians used less cash in the pandemic and 40 per cent are uncomfortable even handling it. The volume and value of cash transactions fell 16 per cent last year from 2019 levels.

More than one-third of Canadians say they don’t expect to pick up where they left off using cash before the pandemic, Payments Canada said in its 2021 Methods and Trends report. About 37 per cent said they avoided shopping at stores that didn’t accept contactless payment via card or smartphone app.

This past summer, I grabbed up all the coins I’d accumulated up until the March 2020 lockdown and cashed them in at the bank. I’m done with coins and maybe with bills as well. A $10 bill has been stuck in my wallet for a while now.

As I mentioned in a recent column, my favourite method of payment right now is Google Pay, which I use for contactless debit and credit transactions through my smartphone. My backup is plastic. If a seller only accepts cash, I politely exit.

Payments Canada says using up coins and bills on hand is one of the main reasons why people used cash for purchases. Suggestion: bundle up any cash you have on hand, deposit it at the bank and never look back.

Another reason cited for using cash is speed and convenience. Actually, contactless payment rules on both those counts. People also seem to like using cash for small transactions, but you can tap your way through tiny transactions with no issue.

I’m not 100 per cent done with cash. Before a vacation in Newfoundland this summer, I added some cash to my wallet on a just-in-case basis. After our plane landed late at night at the airport in Deer Lake, the harried taxi service was unable to process debit and I paid with a $20 bill.

We’re now on the edge of October and I haven’t touched cash since. Let’s see how far I can take life cash-free.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

The new parent’s guide to personal finance

The co-founders of Willful, an online service for creating wills, put together a financial to-do list for new parents based on their own preparations for imminent parenthood. Getting or updating a will is on the list, as it totally should be.

Buy now, pay later

An investing blogger writes on how he opted to buy now and pay later when purchasing a Peloton exercise bike recently. Since then, he has started to worry about this increasingly common payment option. Instead of paying upfront, you make a series of monthly payments. The concern is that people who aren’t great at budgeting can get in over their heads. Try this old standby of personal finance: buy now, pay now.

The right credit card for your side hustle

Side hustle is a term for a gig in addition to your main job that helps you earn extra income. It’s a thing with millennials and Gen Y – my theory is that they’re not getting the earning power they need in a work force that too often shunts them into temporary work. Anyway, here are some thoughts on how to use credit cards for expenses related to a side hustle.

Points for booze

If you’re an Ontario resident who enjoys a drink at home, you’ll want to read this summary of the rewards program switch by LCBO stores to Aeroplan from Air Miles. The LCBO is the province’s liquor retailer.

Ask Rob

Q: My friend has given each of her five teenage grandchildren $500. To encourage them to save, she’s thinking of using GICs and adding more money each year. This is in lieu of purchasing bank stocks with dividends that far exceed the low interest rate on guaranteed investment certificates. Would you please give your opinion on this?

A: I like the idea of bank stocks, but those grandkids would have to be at the age of majority to have their own investment accounts. Otherwise, your friend would have to use in-trust accounts at a brokerage firm. That’s a bit of work for five grandkids. The GIC idea is fine, too, but this would be best done at an alternative bank or a credit union rather than a big bank to maximize rates.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

This mortgage affordability calculator shows you how much mortgage debt you can carry based on factors like your credit rating and existing debt.

The money-free zone

One of my long-time favourites – Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention singing I’ll Keep It With Mine by Bob Dylan. And just to keep that melancholy mood going, try Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

Who I’m following on Twitter

The Food Professor, aka Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s agri-food analytics lab. Keeps me in touch with what’s happening with food trends, prices and more.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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