cash(StatePoint)  It’s easy to shop for, makes a great last-minute present and fits in your pocket. Best of all, everybody is happy receiving it.
  Cash is the perfect gift, and most consumers dream of getting green for the holidays, according to a new survey by Western Union. A clear majority (56 percent) would rather receive $100 in cash than either a gift card from a store or a present of equal value. 
  “This year, more people are looking hard at their budgets and are hoping to receive cash as gifts or choosing to give money,” said Jorge Consuegra, senior vice president, U.S. product management for Western Union. “More Americans are opting to give cash gifts, as they feel it helps them stick to budgets and keeps them in better control of their finances than relying on credit cards.”
  Of those respondents who would prefer receiving cash, 45 percent said they would likely apply it toward basic necessities like gasoline and groceries. That is more than double the number who would spend it on treats and three times those who would save or invest this “found money.”
  In this economy people tend to not spend money on extravagances, even when money comes to them unexpectedly, say experts. This season it’s all about staying on top of everyday family living expenses.  And as far as sending gifts, many consumers consider the extra cost to wrap and ship gifts to be too expensive.
  To help facilitate long-distance, gift giving needs, Western Union has launched “$50 for $5,” a U.S. holiday promotion. This promotion enables consumers to send up to $50 to loved ones in the U.S. for a $5 fee through December 26, 2009.
  “With so many people pressed for time and a majority of consumers having someone close to them who need that little bit extra to help on their daily expenses, using a money transfer service can make you a hero. The cash is available fast and you can track its receipt,” stressed Consuegra. 
  Consumers looking to send money via Western Union can visit any of the more than 45,000 participating locations in the United States or can log onto westernunion.com to send the gift of cash this holiday season.
  Although many people surveyed prefer cash over a specific gift, this holiday season has yielded some surprises. Think older people cling to the nostalgia of unwrapping gifts while the younger generation prefers to take the money and run?
  Think again. According to the new surveys, Americans aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to prefer receiving a specific present over cash or a gift card, while those 65 and older are the least likely.
  The new surveys were conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, polling 1,004 people 18 years old and older this past October.

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