The teen years are no doubt difficult for many parents as your child starts to crave independence. I believe the teen years are when it’s time to really build on what you’ve taught your children about earning money, the value of money, and the importance of good financial habits. Accounts are available for children as soon as they turn 13; I decided to give my teen a debit card over a year ago.
Teen Debit Card: No Checking Account Required
I use a service known as Current, a mobile app with an account I link to my checking account. It also has an account for him, that I attach to the debit card he uses. Inside that, he has an account for spending, an account for saving, and an account for giving.
After a free trial, I agreed to pay $36/year (there are discounts available for families with multiple children, and you can get credit for referring friends and family) for the service. It’s cheaper than fees often associated with checking accounts and is well worth the features available to me.
Since we started using the service, Current has added more features so that when my son gets a job, he can set up direct deposit for his paycheck and have it go directly to his Current account.
Control Spending While Teaching Good Financial Habits
I receive notice whenever he spends money. Transactions round up to the next dollar and put the difference in savings. He can choose to put a portion of the money into his giving account for charitable donations. Plus, I can block purchases from certain places – like online casinos, hotels, etc.
I set it up so that his allowance goes into the account automatically, and I can add money whenever I want. I transfer money into my Current account from my bank so it’s available for me to transfer on a whim since the transfers can take a few days.
A Great Option for Gifts
This past Christmas, I took all the cash he received as gifts and deposited it in my bank account to add to his Current account. I did this not only because cash is super easy to spend (and to lose!) but because a lot of the purchases he likes to make are online anyway.
He knows how much money he gets and when and has to spend intelligently to make it last. Often, he speaks to me in depth about a purchasing decision before making it. We’re in the middle of March, and he still hasn’t spent all of his Christmas money. At 15 years old, I’m quite proud of his money management skills. The debit card has given him the independence he wants, but still allows me to ensure he’s on the right track financially, so he’ll be better situated as an adult living on his own.
This works well for us, and it can work well for many families. Just make sure your child can keep up with the card and has a device to use the app to check balances. Current isn’t the only option for this service – it’s just the one we chose.
How do you feel about your teen having a debit card?