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Gen P: The plastic generation

By Ben Woolsey

Use of credit cards and debit cards for payments has been growing every year since these convenient products were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s. However, it wasn't until recent years that the future of cash and checks for payments has seemed threatened by the credit card and has become a smaller piece of the overall payments pie. And, with people in their teens and early 20s, the payment trend has become predominantly plasticized.

This new generation has occasionally been dubbed "Gen P" for its heavy reliance on plastic. Recent statistics show that Gen P makes well over 50 percent of its collective payments using credit cards and debit cards. Many express frustration at anachronistic merchants that do not accept credit cards, and often pass them by.

Credit card use (and abuse) by high school and college students in recent years has been a source of media attention. While the use of plastic has added tremendous convenience to everyone's lives, this emerging group will need to rein in its spending habits if its members hope to avoid long term credit card debt. They will find, as their parents have, that eliminating credit card debt is essential for long-term financial health.

 

Published: January 21, 2005


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