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Gen Z are turning to ‘cash stuffing’ to prevent overspending 

A new TikTok trend shows young people going old-school by separating cash into envelopes to help save money.

Have you heard? Young people are turning their back on contactless payments and taking a retro approach to personal finance by “stuffing” cash into envelopes, according to the trendy world of TikTok.

According to UK Finance, in 2020 83 per cent of people in the UK were using contactless. But with towering bills and skyrocketing inflation, new ways of tracking your spending are trending. And what better way to know what you’re spending than to handle your money physically?

Young people come in for a lot of criticism when it comes to their spending habits. Just look at presenter Kirstie Allsop’s column claiming young people could get on the property ladder if they only gave up luxuries like Netflix, their gym membership and avocado toast. 

The truth is, 82 per cent of low-income adults aged 18 to 24 have gone without essentials this year, let alone lattes, according to Joseph Rowntree Foundation. And half of 16- to 25-year-olds have gone to bed hungry in the last 12 months due to finances, according to Centrepoint. 

So you could say, money saving tips trending on social media is not something to be scoffed at.

Each “cash stuffing” video on TikTok generally starts with a creator dividing up their notes and pennies and tucking them into labelled envelopes, usually in a binder. 

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Videos vary from budgeters explaining their finances to calm videos of cash handling, which resembles the ASMR trend of therapy through soft sounds. Each envelope is categorised with spending categories such as water, electricity, food, socialising and ‘emergency funds’. 

Why is this happening? One cash stuffing TikToker states: “Sick of living in my overdraft, feeling lost in debt, sick of living pay to pay, sick of constant anxiety due to financial stress.”

What can look like a narrated game of monopoly is attracting a lot of attention, from budgeting mums to Gen Z’s.

The hashtag ‘cashstuffing’ has racked up over 530 million views on TikTok, so is there something in it? What good comes from cash stuffing? Is it responding to the easy danger of ‘tap and go,’ the thirst for financial transparency, to beat the cost of living, or is it just retro? 

The Big Issue asked Dee Kaskonaite, also known by her tiktok handle, Budget with Dee.

She began cash stuffing over two months ago and has since shared video, one racking up almost 100,000 views. Kaskonaite described it as “a fun way to budget and manage your money by utilising cash as a visual, and physical aid”.

She said: “These days most of us can’t afford the luxury to just tap our cards at the shops when we please anymore, more and more people are finding the need to start budgeting their money to try and make it last until the next payday.”

The TikToker highlighted the increasing pressure of bills, adding: “Cash stuffing is becoming so popular especially now with the cost of living crisis.”

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She’s currently saving to help with “the costs of Christmas as well as the rise in energy bills in October”.

Kia Commodore, personal finance expert and founder of Pennies To Pounds said: “Cash stuffing enforces a level of discipline that I believe lots of young people welcome.” 

She continued: “We’re currently in a cost of living crisis and young people aren’t exempt from this. With the situation likely to worsen in the coming months, I think many young people are looking to take precautions and action methods that can be beneficial for their finances.”

However, she cautioned that as we move towards a cashless society, this method “may prove a challenge in the long run”.

Financial expert, Vicky Parry from MoneyMagpie described the idea as “fully inclusive” and said “more traditional methods of banking can alienate some”. 

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“It is great to see younger generations get money savvy and trying to author their own tricks to combat the current financial crisis,” she said.

Parry described what “the older generations called “the jam jar” or “envelope method” as “a fun idea for small savings”. 

However she warned about the potential risks, saying: “The main drawback is of course security. The trend will see people have more cash in their homes and this of course leaves them vulnerable to robberies etc. We suggest not broadcasting that you do this and keeping it somewhere you trust to be safe.”

Parry suggested the 50 envelope challenge, which she says could help you save up to £1,275 in 50 weeks.

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