Cash, kids and COVID-19


By Jason Bryce


Many years ago, one person in my family might have pushed a one cent coin up their nose. They often put small objects in bodily cavities and some may have been later removed from blocked sinuses. It’s amazing how much room there is up there, really.


And it’s amazing how much kids learnt from this simple copper coin. One cent. It is the basis of all wealth and money concepts for a kid.

We don’t have one cent coins anymore but do you have any cash in your house? Many people now are not carrying cash and using cash but what about kids? Do they understand what is going on if they don’t see, touch, use, eat and insert cash money?

How on earth can kids learn about money if they don’t see, touch, learn about and handle cash?

Financial capability relies on parent role-modelling most importantly says heaps of research. It doesn’t matter what you learn at school, what you see Mum and/or dad do is much more influential on young people’s later financial capability. And that is not related to income.


With credit cards, tap-n-go, online banking and shopping, kids do not often see actual money changing hands.” ASIC MoneySmart


“This ‘invisible’ money makes it easier for them to think money is unlimited, rather than earned.”


Here is a common pathway for kid’s basic financial education:

  1. Pre-school: Handling coins and cash, playing shop, making assisted small purchases, learning about delayed gratification, saving and managing a moneybox.
  2. Primary school: Opening a bank account, saving for a goal, learning about needs vs wants, spending at the shops, doing odd pocket money, jobs for cash.
  3. Early teens: Managing wallet, purse, cash and an Eftpos card, transaction and savings bank accounts and mobile phone, online and in-app purchases, working for pocket money or being ‘part of the family’ for pocket money. Teenagers must be trying to get firmly on top of the difference between Needs vs Wants. How and when to ask for money and being disappointed.
  4. Teens: First job, TFN, making larger purchases, buying clothes, gifts, comparing accounts and financial products. pocket money in bank account
  5. Late teens: Paying tax, opening and understanding a super account, credit cards, Afterpay, managing spending and income, saving, taking out a loan, investing

This is the key recommended government go-to resource for parents – “Teaching kids about money” by ASIC Moneysmart.

It starts like this:

“With credit cards, tap-n-go, online banking and shopping, kids do not often see actual money changing hands.”

Yes, so how is that affecting our kids?

“This ‘invisible’ money makes it easier for them to think money is unlimited, rather than earned,” said Moneysmart.

And this is because ‘seeing notes and coins can make it easier for kids to grasp the concept of money.’

“Handing over money in exchange for something can give (kids) a sense of what things actually cost.”


How does a child learn about money? hhmm I wonder …

Cash and COVID-19 – is cash safe?

The days of kids eating money and inserting it in orifices must come to end. Beyond that, cash is important and kids still need to see it, feel it, use it and save it, outside of their body.

The World Health Organisation says people using cash should practice good hand hygiene. They haven’t warned consumers against using cash during COVID-19.

“You should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food,” said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

“Doing so is good hygiene practice.”

I have also written some more information about using cash here, because I work for Next Payments.

This information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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