Cash gets a bad rap from people who think that kids must learn to use plastic to succeed in our economy. The rule in my world is coin before currency before checking before debit before credit. Each must be mastered before moving on to the next level. Why? Because money is abstract and cash is concrete. Early on, kids learn better in a concrete world — where they can touch and feel and see the limits of what they are working with. Concrete cash helps kids see and feel the consequences of money choices first hand. Plastic — not so much.
Introduce money in a concrete way and work your way through to plastic. But don’t start with plastic. University administrators report losing more kids in their sophomore year to credit card debt than to academic failure. Start now with cash so you kids can handle the inevitable move to plastic successfully.