I love carrying cash, because it’s a novelty. I so rarely have crisp notes folded up in my purse that it’s exciting. I want to count it out and throw it around like a character from Casino. And then that moment passes and I just feel a bit nervous that if it were pinched, it would be gone for good. While cash is already novel to me in my thirties, it will be all but redundant when my kids are adults. Already, the birthday notes they receive from elderly relatives feel antiquated.
Gradually, even those bastions of cash-only transactions (car park ticket machines, buses, newsagents, burger stands) are getting a makeover. I can extend my car parking ticket by text, I don’t need to tap in a PIN to by a newspaper, I just wave my card near the machine (and actually, I don’t buy newspapers, I consume news products on my iPad with a one-click download). In the US, products like Square are revolutionising the way payments can be made using mobiles.
This is the world our kids are operating in now, they don’t even remember postal orders or bankers’ drafts. Cheques confuse them completely. We really could have a cashless society by the time they come of age. So for me, it makes no sense to give them an old-fashioned understanding of money by dishing out coins each week.
We use goHenry for a number of reasons, preparing them for a future of cashless payments is a big one. Beyond this, it’s easier for my family. As I said above, like the Queen, I don’t really carry cash. So I don’t need to search the cracks of the sofa or run to a cash machine to dole out weekly pocket money.
I want to link money received to behaviour and positive activities. I don’t run a workhouse, but my kids do have their own chores. I see this as contributing to the family. Chores are age-appropriate - my 12-year-old is on dishwasher detail, next one down clears the dishes and wipes the sides, the five-year-old does nominal things but gives them his all — and they’re rewarded with regular money added to their goHenry accounts.
If they lose a card — and learning to look after a payment card is pretty important given everyone has one in the end — they lose less than if a fiver falls out of their pocket. But they also experience the hassle of waiting for a new card to be sent out, and hopefully take better care in future.
Sometimes, my kids want to save up for something and ask for extra money towards it. I think it’s very commendable that they want to work towards a goal, so I support them wholeheartedly. We add extra one-off tasks, like washing the car, to their accounts online and then make one-off payments when the task is completed. It’s a very simple hardwork = reward set up, but I genuinely think it’s one that can be missed if we just dish out cash.
We’re a modern family, my husband and I both work and we both contribute to the family finances. It’s often an overlooked benefit, but I appreciate that we can both pay into and control the goHenry accounts of our kids. We can both keep an eye on what they’re spending, we can discuss the limits we set (and set them differently according to age — and behaviour) and we can set things up and then forget about them, knowing that everything will tick along in the background.
It’s been a good halfway house between just buying them stuff (teaching no lessons along the way) and setting up a full-blown bank account (overkill at this stage). goHenry reflects the future we’re all moving towards, and that’s a journey I want to get my kids on now.
Holly is editor-in-chief of Quib.ly, a Q&A community for parents and experts to talk about raising happy, healthy kids in a connected world. When she's not editing or writing about all the awesome opportunities our kids have today, she's doing one of the following: 1. General mum stuff (she has three kids aged 11, 10 and five). 2. Attempting to move from being a slow to a medium-slow runner. 3. Drinking gin and eating Mexican food. Before Quib.ly she was a writer, editor and community manager for a wide range of websites and publications. Her favourite Quib.ly topic is ‘digital future’.