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Invisible Money

In this digital age where we are connected to just about everything, all the time, there is a major disconnect that is often overlooked – the use of paper money and coins.

When is the last time you paid for something with cash?  Better yet, when is the last time your children or grandchildren saw you pay for something with cash? The answer is probably not recently. When we use credit and debit cards or Apple Pay to make purchases the younger people in our lives may be missing out on vital lessons about money we all learned as children. 

Last year Hasbro, the maker of Monopoly, decided to do away with paper money and replace it with debit cards and scanners.  While that may seem like a cool idea at first, pause for a moment and think about some of the simple educational lessons of the game that may be given up.  Things like, understanding if you have enough money to buy St. James Place or making the correct change playing the role of banker after your sister put up three hotels on Park Place (just as you turn the corner heading towards ‘Go’).

But it goes well beyond Monopoly.  Fundamental lessons learned about working hard, saving, and overall personal responsibility are tied to the tangible reward of cash - that’s ultimately at risk of being lost.  This isn’t to say we should go back to an all cash system but we should all be aware that the building blocks of a healthy relationship with money is absent for many children.

One of the simplest things we can do to combat the epidemic of invisible money is talk with our children about using cash or engaging in the time-honored tradition of chores and allowance.  We also like the idea of the Purchase Path approach which describes the process of earning money, depositing it in the bank, making the purchase, and paying the credit card bill when it comes due. 

We should teach them that money doesn’t come easy and there are often sacrifices made, both seen and unseen, to earn it.  Personal financial education and responsibility can be started with a simple conversation by you.