How to teach kids about money in a cashless world
4 min | 22 November 2021
Moving to a cashless society has its advantages. Contactless purchases and online shopping have collectively saved parents hours of precious time. But if generations of kids rarely see money being physically exchanged, how can they understand what it's worth, where it comes from and how it's managed?
When was the last time you paid for anything in cash?
Since the pandemic took hold, the ways in which we spend money have changed. Not only are more of us shopping online, but when we are out we tend to use cards where we might previously have paid with cash.. Some studies show we could be living in a completely cashless society by 2024.
If our children never see cash change hands, money can seem unreal. Will this affect how they understand the concept of money?
Fortunately, paediatricians and psychologists say kids tend to be resilient and adaptable and so they may find a world without physical cash less strange than adults. And with the right guidance they can still learn the valuable money-managing lessons older generations did, without a pound coin in sight.
So, how do we teach them about money in a cashless world?
Money in your bank account is as real as money in your hand
Start with the basics. Once your kids have grasped coins, show them how to add them up. Then show them how that relates to the money in your banking app. When shopping online, allow your child to 'pay' by clicking 'submit' on the transaction and let them see that money leave your account by showing them the balance. Show them that every time you pay with your card, that your balance gets smaller.
Talk to your children about money more broadly, too.
The good things about watching your money
It’s important to show children how to save - but without cash, what could you use instead of a piggy bank?
Encourage them to choose something they want to save for. Then get a whiteboard or some post-it notes to keep a list of money you add-in and a running balance - just like your banking app.
If they want something expensive, you could reward them with a bonus whenever they hit a savings milestone.
It all adds up
A good old-fashioned calculator is a terrific tool for showing how money works in a digital way; it's a practical and physical way to demonstrate that x + y = z. It can be used for budgeting, especially for younger kids. Take them around the supermarket and get them to add up how much everything costs, or set a budget and ask them to tell you when it runs out. Then let them see you hand over your card or cash.
Managing their own money
Many banks offer online current accounts with a card for over 11s, into which you can pay pocket money and they can only spend what they have.
They can be loaded with money and used by your child to pay for things themselves. These can be a good choice for younger children (some say they can even be used by four-year-olds) but remember to check if there are admin charges.
Whichever card or account you choose for your children, it can help teach them to manage their money and set their own goals while allowing you to oversee. As spending limits can often be set, children can also learn that when the money is gone, it’s gone.
While a cashless future may seem odd to some of us, many children may already be on board with it. If they have a good grasp of how money is made and the value of it, they will treat it to be just as valuable as the tangible version.
- TheGuardian.com Article dated 1 June 2021 "Just 7% of UK shop payments predicted to be in cash by 2024 – report"
- NYTimes.com Article dated 18 June 2020 "Worried About Your Kids’ Social Skills Post-Lockdown?"