Cash payments have boomed in the past year as credit crunched consumers keep a closer eye on their spending.

Just under 90% of payments in community stores are now made using cash, up from 56% a year ago, PayPoint's Better Local Living campaign has revealed.

The ACS-backed initiative also found that young people aged 16-24 were the largest age group to use cash in order to better manage their budgets.

The recession is having an impact on the nation's cooking habits, too, with 26% of shoppers now cooking meals from scratch. The number of people who eat in with friends rather than going out has also risen by 13%.

PayPoint head of corporate affairs Peter Brooker said top-up shopping at local stores was the ideal way for people to manage their finances. "It's surprising how many things you can pay little and often, such as topping up your gas and electricity meters. By enabling the broadest range of payments to be made at your local community store, we hope we can make peoples' lives that bit easier."

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