Teens, Tweens and Finances

We forewarned our girls that this Christmas was not going to be a big one.  The Rooster had changed jobs halfway thru the year and my business was slower than last year. Even if that hadn’t been the case, when we saw the 13 YOs “list” it made us do a double take and realized that these kids needed a severe reality check. I’ve made the comment many times that there is NOT an M.D. behind my name. Sorry for the harsh truth kids, but we are not rolling in the dough.

We “gently” advised her that she should probably sharpen her pencil on her list and get back with us. 

Here were the items on M’s list:

  • Macbook (However, she was willing to take a refurbished one)
  • Uggs
  • Toms
  • Abercrombie clothes and gift cards ($50 or more, please)
  • Hollister clothes and gift cards (ditto on the amount)
  • iPad
  • Other things that blurred together due to the tears in my eyes from laughing

After a final trip to the mall where we were hit every 5 minutes with “can we get” “can we buy” “can I have”, the Rooster and I decided that enough was enough and that the only way she was ever going to get it, was to put her in charge of her money once and for all and get her a debit card. I admit we’re half-ass when it comes to paying out allowance but we also pay for cell phone, activities, etc. We discussed it and realized that we need to commit to paying her but that instead of cash, it was going to be paid to her on a debit card.

I started looking around and what I found is that those things are a ripoff! How can I possibly teach her smart money moves when I’m looking at these kind of fees. Here are a couple that I looked at:

  1. Visa Buxx – Here are just a few of the charges: $12 to get the card, $2 fee to reload money on the card, $.50 for ATM balance inquiries, $1.50 ATM for withdrawals in excess of 2 per month, $5 to renew the card at expiration and a schlew of other charges.
  2. Greendot Reloadable Cards – $4.95 to buy the card, $5.95 monthly charge OR use it at least 30 times a month OR load at least $1,000 in a month on it, ATM free if used at specific locations and up to $4.95 to reload money on it. Other fees here. 
  3. PayPal Student Account – Fees: $1 to withdraw from ATM.

Guess which one I went with? I already have PayPal for both personal and work so it’s going to be easy for me to manage it with her, easy to load money on it – it can be automatically done and there are NO FEES. How much better can that be? One of the cool features that I didn’t know about until writing this is that another feature is that if she runs out of money, she can send a text to PayPal to request more. I will then get a text message from PayPal asking if I want to transfer the money and can reply with a simple yes or no. The money is then piped into the account within two minutes.

I’m looking forward to see how this pans out for all of us. To date, she’s already mentally spent 5X the amount that we loaded on it 😉

Have you tried this method with any of your kids?

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  1. You made some very good points. My granddaughter does have adebit card. supposedly her estranged biological male parent, ha, is to pay child support that will go onto her debit card. Well, 45 cents or 1 cents just doesn’t go too far. She checks her balnce and knows how much she has. she only uses it for ememrgency like on a school trip where she has to eat out. It does work for us.

    • @malikabourne2 So far, so good… there was a pair of yoga pants that she wanted that she needed an “extra” $2 (or something nominal) for and my response was.. you get paid in a week.. you can get them then.

  2. Good for you. It is a good thing to try. Be firm. Take it from me, if you can get them started on smart money management, it is one of the most important things you can do.

    I loved your comment about your eyes blurring from tears of laughter. 😀

    My 21 year old stepdaughter has such horrible finances and compulsive spending (we don’t even know her total outstanding debt), and my DH won’t do anything but help her out of every bind she gets herself into. He is her own personal ATM. And now, my stepson (19 and without a job) is starting. My DH laid out money for his birthday gift, Christmas cash a week later, and then on the 27th, my stepson called and asked for my hubby to pay his vet bill (for his sick dog) to the tune of $450. And the dear sweet man just did it without batting an eye. Ugh.

    My daughter got used to living with a single mom and learned the value of money early. When she was about 12, she complained about us not having money. I was shocked/hurt, and then felt like the worst mom ever for not giving her what everyone else had. But the reality was that I couldn’t. Shortly after that, I took her to volunteer at a local community program where we cooked/served meals to the poor and homeless. There were several kids her age who were eating there. She never complained about our lack of money again, and now she is 23 and very responsible and mature with her money. Thank god we have one kid that is.

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to write a book here. I guess I got a bit carried away.

    • @Kimberlee I’ve often said that the one thing my parents lacked in were there lessons on finance. It basically rolled out as “don’t get into debt”. What does that mean to an 18 year old? What is “debt”?? I paid for it dearly and in some ways, am still paying for it. DH and I are determined to not let our kids leave without lessons in proper money handling. We’ve seen situations like what you’re describing with your DH.. all it does is enable them and if they know there will always be a rescue, they’ll continue to do it. Get your lights turned off.. have a charge declined.. sometimes that’s what it takes for a young adult to wake up and take the situation seriously. Kudos to you on the lessons your daughter learned. It’s not fun telling them no when it seems the entire world around them has everything but it’s the reality of life.

    • Yes! It gives a transaction history. I’m willing to bet the biggest challenge she’ll have is not losing it. Already told her that it wouldn’t be replaced if she lost it.

    • @JustNannette Yes! It gives a transaction history. I’m willing to bet the biggest challenge she’ll have is not losing it. Already told her that it wouldn’t be replaced if she lost it.

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