Financial Literacy & the Cashless Conundrum

Teaching kids about money has always required some strategy. But just one generation ago, explaining the function of currency was a lot easier. Why? Well, money could be seen. Our cashless society has made “money doesn’t grow on trees” sound downright quaint. Today’s kids would likely ask, “what is money?” in response.

As cards replace cash and apps replace cards, teaching kids about money has gotten more complicated – and even more important. As transactions look like pushing a single button on a phone, explaining that things aren’t free is a vital lesson of childhood. How do you do it? We’ve gathered some of the best ideas from around the web.

Every Transaction a Teaching Moment

The check stand at the grocery store makes for a fabulous classroom. Whenever you swipe your card, use the moment to explain how money works in the first place. “We’re buying this food thanks to mommy’s hard work. When mom goes to work, her boss pays her money. We put that money into our bank, then this card lets us use that money for food.” The goal: make connections between transactions and work, work and resources.

Pennies for Pinecones

The best way to help kids understand money is to give them their own to work with. One idea? Reward their labor for simple tasks – like “Pennies for Pinecones,” where every piece of stray yard waste in a bucket earns them a shiny coin. After they’ve amassed 100, take them on a shopping trip to the dollar store.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em (Phones) Join Them

Most parents would prefer that smartphones disappear from our households and never return. After you’ve limited screen time, banned devices from the dinner table, and done everything in your power to minimize their presence, consider another approach for those times when a little screen time makes life easier: focus their attention on content that matters. Apps like Bankaroo simplify (and even gamify) online banking in a way that kids can understand.

Let us Edutain You

In our distracted society, sometimes the fastest way to educate is through entertainment. At Biz Kid$, our “edutainment” approach to financial literacy mixed hilarious sketch comedy with inspirational real life young entrepreneurs. Watch Biz Kid$ clips for free on YouTube and, or download and stream entire episodes for just $2.99 each on Vimeo. Our top pick for teaching kids about the value of money? “The Value of Money” from Season 4.