When I was asked to write a financial planning themed article for the newsletter, the only parameter was whatever I do, do NOT write about Bitcoin. Therefore, we are not going to discuss Bitcoin (sorry). While considering my options, I thought about how much my daughters have grown over the last 14 years, and I decided to write about a more grown up topic, like how do my wife and I teach the kids how to manage their spending, saving and investing in today’s digital world? What are some potential options?
One evening at the dinner table it came out that one of my twin daughters had received her very first (and completely unsolicited) credit card offer in the mail. Her sister, sitting across the table with what can only be described as a MASSIVE pouty lip with a side of rage on her face, received no such offer, and was “salty” about the day’s events. Please note that the term “salty” is used by younger people to describe someone who is annoyed, irritated and/or in a general state of unhappiness.
After doing some research, it turns out the pseudo credit card was actually a Direct Deposit offer linked to a bank account. The good news that it was not a bona fide credit card offer. The bad news was that clearly someone had my daughter’s name and address information, so a quick stop to LifeLock to add each of the girl’s information to my account, and we should be protected against future efforts.
What are some of the ways you can help your teenager learn good spending habits, how to save, manage their cash flow and/or invest? I want to focus on two options that I think make a lot of cents (see what I did there?).
One of the easiest ways to do this is to goto your existing credit card issuer and request to “Add an Authorized User” on your account. Under this scenario, the child(ren) get their very own credit card, and this is the most important part, with their OWN NAME ON IT.
The control factor here is high because you, as the primary account holder, will see any and all charges they make with their card(s). This allows you to review the charges with them and most importantly, continue to pay the monthly credit card bill.
Please note that the primary cardholder (parent) remains liable for all purchases. This method also allows the child(ren) to establish credit on their own without having their own credit card and little, if any, adult supervision. The second option is an app called Greenlight. Greenlightcard.com
This app is more of a debit card for the child, but it is so much more. Do you want to send an allowance but don’t have time to go to the bank? Do you want to send them money instantly for a purchase you approve? Do you want to help them save? To invest? Do you want real time updates when they use the card? Yes to all.
Keep in mind this is not a credit card. It is a debit card (they can only spend what you send them). In addition, there is a monthly fee for this family plan.
Obviously, there are more ways to help educate your teenager in today’s modern financial world, but the most important thing is to start the conversation early, set guidelines, and find a pathway forward for everyone in your household.
Do you have some additional ideas you would like to share? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.