Kids think about money differently than other generations. For the first time, we have seven living generations on our planet. The oldest are nearing their 100th birthday. For them, writing a check was high-tech.
Today’s youngest generation may never write a paper check. Consequently, understanding how your kids think about money is important as you provide financial experience in your home.
Money attitudes and habits change over time
A generation is a group of people growing up in similar historical, social and economic times who share common experiences. Generally 15–20 years.
Greatest Generation 1901-1924: Thrifty, careful with finances, balanced checkbooks. Saved as much as they could. Fixed before buying new.
Silent Generation 1925-1945: Discipline, self-sacrifice, and caution. Defined by conformity and general prosperity. Savers, financially prudent.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964: Goal-centric, independent, and resourceful. They value hard work, individualism, optimism, family, and consumerism.
Generation X: 1965-1979: Entrepreneurial and individualistic growing up in two-income households. Want what they want and want it now. Struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.
Millennials 1980-1994: Eager to spend, to retire early having saved their money. They schedule everything. Invited as children to play a lead role in family’s purchasing and travel decisions.
Gen Z 1995-2012: Began using cell phones and digital technology very young, leaving traditional toys behind. Known for making socially conscious purchases, thriftiness, and being highly informed.
Generation Alpha came to life in 2010, the year of the first iPad by Apple. They are growing up in a digital environment that will affect them socially and economically; they live through screens.
The commonality in all generations
In my research about generations I did find one common reality. Money always exists as a number. That number may be in a checkbook, bank account, or other online balance. In many transactions today money never exists as cash. Regardless of how we spend money, money can always be tracked as a number.
Today’s kids think about money differently
With the ways we use money in today’s digital world, it more important than ever that our youngest generations learn to manage money as a number. Learn more in my book for teaching kids this essential life skill. Money and Responsibility Define This Allowance System for Kids.
My generational timeline
Parents started a family during WWII without a checkbook. I’m a Baby Boomer and got my first checkbook when I went to college to track my student loans. My kids are Gen X and got their first checkbooks when they were in junior high school. My grandkids may never write a paper check.
When kids were in college we learned how to transfer money from our bank account to theirs, and eventually to their college financial accounts.
My husband and I are primarily credit card users who pay the full balance every month. We enjoy the convenience of paying only one bill and enjoy the rewards.
My college daughter taught me how to use an ATM in the 1990s. We have debit cards but don’t use them because debit cards don’t provide the same security as credit cards do.
My oldest grandchildren are Gen Z. When I give my Gen Alpha grandson some cash, he turns it over to his mother to deposit in his No-Cash Allowance account. Tells me it’s much easier to manage as a number.
I’m a bit of an old dog when it comes to some of the newer cashless spending methods. Will need to chat with my grown kids about how to use Apple Pay and ask my grandkids to show me how to use payment transfer methods like Venmo.
What are the generational money attitudes in your family?
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Lynne Finch helps parents teach their kids about money from piggy banks to online banking. “It’s time to teach the kids how to manage money they can’t see or touch,” says the author of The No-Cash Allowance. Follow Lynne’s common sense approach for teaching children that money is a number with kids as young as pre-school and continuing through high school.