One of the teachers that I guest speak for wanted to make sure that I knew about this apparently growing national trend of cashless restaurants, cafes and take-out places, because I am always telling students, and the readers of this column, that “Cash is King.”

The only place that I could find in Rochester that advertised itself as cashless was Sol’s Underground, located on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Its website states, “This location is cashless from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cash cannot be accepted during these times. Purchases can be made with Tiger Bucks, Dining Dollars or Visa/MasterCard.”

Because it is part of the RIT system, the two principal issues currently bring raised by this trend don’t really apply.

The first issue is, can these establishments legally not accept cash, which is the legal tender of the United States? Yes, unless your state requires you to accept cash, which New York does not. According to, “Private businesses can create their own payment policies, including ones that restrict cash payments. You can say that customers must pay with a credit card, check, or money order. You can also ban large bills at your business. Bottom line — you can accept payments in whatever form you want. Here’s why:

"• No federal law requires businesses to accept cash.

"• You only need to accept cash when someone owes a debt. If the customer pays before you provide the product or service, you don’t have to accept cash.

"You need to establish a cash payment policy before a transaction occurs. You can’t change your policy mid-transaction or refuse someone’s paper bills when you say that you accept cash. As long as you tell customers upfront that you don’t accept cash, you can refuse cash payments.”

The second issue is the possible discriminatory aspects presented by the policy. Not legal discrimination, but possible “class” discrimination — are these establishments somehow making a statement as to what kind of customers they want? put it this way:”What about people who are paid in cash, or others who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t open a bank account (because they are undocumented, for example, or do not have a home or a fixed address)? What about tourists who simply want to avoid bank exchange rates? What about other people who, quite reasonably, don’t love the idea of companies being able to track their complete purchase histories?” What about people who just prefer to use cash for smaller purchases, like a pastry and a cup of coffee?

According to the latest national survey by the FDIC, about 6.5 percent of American households (which is about 8.4 million) do not have a bank account, and an additional 18.7 percent are what’s called “underbanked,” which means they are more likely to rely on cash day-to-day. In New York State, almost 25 percent of all households — and nearly half of black and Hispanic households — are unbanked or underbanked.

So, why do businesses refuse cash payments? According to, "Businesses claim that not accepting cash reduces the chance of stores being robbed, eliminates the temptation for employees to steal money, eliminates the time needed for workers to travel to and from the bank and even reduces expenses by dispensing with the need for bulky cash registers.” On the other hand, we all still see those many gas stations offering a 10 cent per gallon discount for cash, and we have all had the experience of obtaining a minimal discount for cash at a small business, because it avoids merchant’s fees on card purchases, and it speeds up cash flow.

All I know is that I personally will not patronize any of these establishments for smaller purchases. How could I stand in front of all of those students and tell them that “Cash is King,” if I did? I want them to make different and better spending decisions, and spend less!

On a different subject, although everything that I have read indicates that the divorce rate, especially among millennials, is not increasing, but, in fact, may be decreasing, I seem to be hearing more advertising by divorce attorneys than I did in the past. Before the reforms to the Bankruptcy Laws in 2005, it seemed that we were bombarded with advertising by bankruptcy attorneys. Then, it has been personal injury attorneys. Now it is divorce attorneys.

In addition, I am hearing advertising by Certified Divorce Financial Advisors, which I never knew existed, so I did some research. According to, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) uses their knowledge of tax law, asset distribution and short- and long-term financial planning to achieve equitable divorce settlements. Information provided by the clients and attorneys is used to analyze proposals for the division of assets , alimony, custody, child support, etc. CDFAs can then project the financial impact of a proposal in the short and long term, and formulate different options that may leave both parties in better positions post-marriage. They can even give absolute values to assets that may be under- or over-estimated.

According to , a CDFA might be a good fit if couples own a business together or have significant property to better understand the value of their assets and debts. Additionally, they can create a post-divorce budget, so you have a financial plan moving forward. CDFAs are best at providing advice on: valuing assets and debts, valuing the marital home, dividing retirement and pension accounts, and the amount and duration of alimony. In addition, they can provide advice on the tax implications of alimony and property division, and setting up a budget for life after the divorce.

The more interesting thing that I discovered in researching these financial advisors is the development of the financial planning industry into niche markets and specialties. As one person basically put it, just saying that we can develop a plan tailored to meet your particular needs no longer works, because that is what everyone says. As a result, just like attorneys and doctors, financial planners are developing specialties and moving into niche markets, like the Certified Divorce Financial Advisors. Another new specialty is Philanthropy Advisors. Look for more new specialties in the future.

Happy New Year! I hope that 2019 is a great year for you.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at or at