As anyone with small children can tell you, children as young as two are already starting to observe some of the basic aspects of the financial literacy topic spectrum. From wallets to shopping, little ones are indeed aware of and interested in money:
Between the ages of two and three, many children will start making requests to actually buy things in the store. So, how can a parent turn this early interest in money into early knowledge of the value of money?
For starters, using cash will increase the odds that your child will eventually understand the exchange process. This is not convenient. At all. With online banking, tracking and budgeting, the debit card and computer are more efficient tools of commerce.
To help motivate a cash-based life, it might be helpful to reflect on how the exchange process has evolved and devolved through time. Most people agree that a lack of financial education for consumers helped contribute to the real estate bubble that resulted in the (not-so) Great Recession. But, would this bust still have happened if we lived in the age of the gold standard and consumers had to trade a pile of gold each time they bought a home they wanted to flip? What if we still had a barter system… a bountiful harvest in exchange for a structure to live in? Well, perhaps sharecropping is a little extreme, but it make a point. Even though these historical economic systems may not have been as efficient as our current swipe-and-go way of life, there is no mistaking that our ancestors understood the value of what they bought and sold more clearly than many of us do today.
The systems we have in place, as cool and futuristic as they get, do increase the risk that the lessons will be lost, not to mention the fact that it is much easier to spend more with cards (or a smart phone) than cash). If you have a young one, consider trying a cash-based life for a while. Make sure you know where your bank’s ATMs are located After all, moving to a cash-based system doesn’t have to mean moving to a fee-based system.