When a 2-year-old can pay for their own babycino using a tap and go credit card, we have to ask: is money just dangerously easy to spend?
From a toddler’s perspective, maybe. Cold hard cash is still a novelty for them (admittedly it’s become a novelty for many of us too).
At another recent encounter with a different 2-year-old I “bought’ tickets to sit on their lounge from her with a 20c coin. The 2yo response? “Can I have two monies?”
Disclaimer: I want her to like me so I did give her more money.
These two examples show how kids might start learning about and using money – and with Australians already drowning in $50 billion of credit card debt these inadvertent lessons can be vital.
If you’re the one with the tap and go card (or phone) the MoneySmart website says you should make the invisible money real.
“Not seeing money exchanged for purchases makes it harder for kids to get their heads around what things cost,” it says.
“They might see this invisible money as an abstract and unlimited resource rather than real money coming in and out of their family’s bank accounts.”
Teaching toddlers $$$
MoneyPlace founder Stuart Stoyan actively considers how to teach his family an appreciation and understanding of money.
“It’s important to teach the basic principles about money and saving but you can’t over complicate it – you’re also teaching them important things like how to use the toilet!
“For toddlers the first thing is that stuff costs money and two, they can’t buy everything they want.
“It’s also simple things like making sure kids come to the cash register to pay and explaining the different kinds of money, whether it’s notes, coins or cards. We’re also actively explaining why mum and dad go to work and what that means.”
When they grow up…
Once kids start school they might also learn about comparing prices before buying, being careful while online shopping and how to save to buy the things you really want.
To this end Stuart recommends a savings account that will teach young and school-aged children about the value of saving money and how it can grow.
Earning their keep?
Founder of Kiddsbay, a kid friendly business building community, Allan Lalic says helping your child set up a business is a fast way to teach practical life skills.
“Understanding the ‘how’ of making money, and becoming self-sufficient is a lost trait today,” Allan says.
“We are seeing in our Kiddsbay business workshops when kids are understanding this, their mindset shifts from wanting to spend money to wanting to keep the money for themselves.
“The skills learnt from entrepreneurship include resilience, problem solving, networking, communication, financial literacy and business acumen skills.”
Great skills to learn even as an adult!