Financial mistakes. I’ve made a few. There was the time I scoured the couch cushions for change to get to a job interview. The time I withdrew money from my retirement account because I felt like taking a month off from working. While part of me looks back at these moments fondly, I’m also like a lot of other adults who look at their retirement accounts and feel certain retirement at 65 might not be an option.
Not only do I want my kids to enjoy a fun-filled, worry-free retirement, but I want them to be able to lead fruitful lives of breathtaking experiences and opportunities while they’re young.
So I began to look for financial resources for kids, and here’s what I found.
I started with my bank and my partner’s bank. My grandma sends birthday checks to the kids, and I thought it would be nice for them to be able to deposit money into their own accounts. But it turns out most traditional banks and credit unions don’t offer anything but savings accounts for kids. I knew from a banking job back in my 20s that it is against regulations to withdraw from a savings account more than six times a month. While I didn’t think my children would need to do this, it still wasn’t ideal.
We live in a mostly cashless society, so I was perplexed that our system isn’t catching up to show kids how we all live and spend. Soon advertisements for a children’s spending card started rolling into my Facebook feed (I know you’re listening to me Zuckerberg…it’s creepy). Greenlight was the first I saw and thought it could be a viable option. I liked that I could build in a chore schedule, monitor their spending, and automatically pay allowance. After careful examination of the policies and fees though, I saw it was $4.99 every month. That’s a lot of money to my kids!
So then I did more research and found the BusyKid Prepaid Spend Card. Now THIS was more of a match. Not only does it feature the same chore and automatic allowance process, but it also has a built-in place to save money, invest in stocks, and donate to charities. I looked at the fees and saw a $19.99 annual fee for the family, which includes one card and additional cards for $7.99. My partner and I were pretty much set in a decision after reviewing the different spending products available. But we wanted to give our kids their first assignment in critical thinking and making financial decisions.
We laid out the fees and told them we’d cover the first month of Greenlight and then it was on them. Next, we told them about how BusyKid was structured and said we’d cover the first annual fee and cost of cards, then they’d be responsible to help with fees the next year. They quickly discerned the better deal and I moved forward with signing up.
I was happy to give the kids an app that gave them a balanced approach to finances — Earn, Save, Share, Spend, and Invest. Frankly, I’ve been working a TON lately, and BusyKid helps me stay on top of compensating my kids. Positive reinforcement is so important with them, especially for our child with ODD. Yet I would get so caught up in work and home responsibilities that I was unable to keep track of how often they were putting away clothes, cleaning the cat box, and helping me pull weeds.
Greenlight does some really cool things. too! For instance, they sponsor a podcast about money for kids called Million Bazillion. Million Bazillion “answers the awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes surprising questions that kids have about money.” The show presents topics in a way children can stay focused, the episode about the importance of negotiation had my kids giggling and engaged—while learning! And each show has recap quiz questions at the end to cement ideas in their minds, and open up interesting conversations for the family.
Even though our journey with financial literacy has just begun, I can already tell they are learning the value of a dollar and how to monitor their accounts. When kids know what budgeting and balancing is like this young, maybe…just maybe…they’ll never have to put 74 cents worth of gas in their car.