Invisible Money


Invisible Money

  Some weeks ago an executive for Experian, one of the three credit rating firms, was on television advocating that students (I assume she meant children) should be given credit cards at a much younger age. That way, by the time they get to college, they’d know better how to manage their credit cards. I assume she meant credit card debts because she deals with credit ratings. And, I assume, again, that she anticipates that college students will run up credit card debts.

  By that reasoning, children should learn to drink alcohol at an earlier age so they won’t get drunk when they go to college. There is some validity in that, though it should generally be applied to learning how to control your drinking and your conduct. In other words, in home discussions, but not providing alcohol for training purposes.

  First of all, if you get into college, you should have some sense of how to use money. Adding and subtracting come to mind. Or, are college students dumber than stones? I can’t throw that out because I have grandchildren in college. So, I take it back. But, really. How about learning to handle cash first? Everyone knows that having a credit card is like having invisible money. Every retailer knows that getting customers to use a credit card increases sales. That’s why they are willing to pay fees to credit card companies instead of offering discounts for using cash.

  Unless you have a mind like a calculator, using a credit card makes you blind to your bank balance. So, to give children credit cards at an earlier age is to encourage them to go blind (in a fiscal sense, of course). In aviation, flying blind means not seeing the ground or surrounding environment and using only your cockpit instruments to determine your attitude (right side up or not). It takes time and experience to do that and is quite tricky. Credit cards are similar.

  Why not advocate teaching children how to use cash? Cash is scarce. Credit or debit cards aren’t. So, the new learning experience should be with cash. Since learning to read, write and calculate seems to be so difficult today, why not use cash -fake cash, of course - in a classroom to teach control of money. Might invite some politicians in to observe. Just blue skying here, but maybe the whole program could be done on the smart phones kids enter school with.

  This would be teaching computer use, credit card use, adding and subtracting all at the same time. It would eliminate the fake money problem in the classroom and get back to the cashless trailing we are moving toward. Hey! Maybe we can develop an app that creates fake accounts so children can practice buying without really spending money. I started out making fun of the Experian lady, but now I think her idea can lead to smarter smart phones.

  As a matter of fact, I heard that Apple is developing a smart phone that will replace credit cards. Just wand your smart phone over the items at check out and your purchase is made. That could be tied into your bank account with an application that beeps if you’re exceeding your resources. That would keep us all from being dumber than stones. So, lady Experian, I apologize for making fun of you.

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