Coin Operated

In a post-coin operated world, it is getting trickier and trickier to deal in cash.  As we all know, transactions without cash have a cost, an actual fee for moving the virtual money around, and the costs we incur by being more oblivious about the actual amount of our money (or the bank's money) we're shifting around.  However, I have also started to wonder how a cashless society is understood by my kids.

Recently, we had a fun time playing with friends in a river that necessitated a trip to the laundromat to dry out our shoes.  The coin slot happily took our money, even though it didn't always reciprocate by actually starting when we pressed the button. I couldn't help but think that it was rare moment of my kids observing and participating in a coin transaction.

Their experience with payphones is limited and they have only occasionally seen me use one. My daughter asked me if I knew what penny candy was.  She told me she was studying it in social studies.  They were very disappointed last time they had a lemonade stand because everyone claimed they had no change.  Monopoly is starting to feel a bit anachronistic.

It made me think that it is getting harder to explain the concept of money to my kids.  Slippery and uphill at the best of times, the challenge of teaching my kids money management is compounded because the concept of how money works is changing.  They are eager to earn money and spend it (of course), but when we recently explained that a cheque written to my daughter would be cashed and used on vacation, it caused a lot of stress and misunderstandings for her.  In her mind, she never actually had $50 in her hand, and now, even though she had fun doing what she did with the money, it never literally passed through her hands either.  Are we raising our kids to participate in a cashless economy? economy that is still going to require prudence and judgement, just like the one governed by paper and coin money, but without the smaller change to help solidify and help them to manipulate and work out the basic concepts on their own terms.

We have a piggy bank, although it rarely contains anything.  Should we teach our kids to fill it, and keep it filled or download an app and teach them how to monitor their quarters and dimes virtually?

For another spin on this subject, I thought this was pretty funny!