Before you say she has lost her mind, hear me out. We let her get a “checking” account but she doesn’t get any checks. She gets a debit/credit card that she can use in stores and online. She also has online access to her account so she can see how much money she has and what she has purchased. Let me give you the details of why I let my 13yr old have a checking account.
Let me just say…….
Let me start by saying that she is very responsible. She is an only child so she tends to be more mature because she has to be with adults all the time. She started asking for money for her birthday and Christmas, we don’t give her an allowance but we do give her money for good grades. So she would end up with wads of cash (and by wads of cash I mean maybe $100 or $150) that she received as gifts from family members and the money she gets for her grades.
Here’s the details:
It wouldn’t all fit in her wallet and I didn’t want her to bring all of it with her anyway. She had a hard time with the bills, she would have bills falling on the floor when she was going through the checkout to pay for her stuff. She couldn’t get change out of her purse fast enough in the line because she was using her “kitty wallet” that takes 10 minutes to open and unclick and unzip. Literally, she had money falling all over on the floor, I would cringe just watching it. Fortunately, I always stood behind her in the line to catch everything that was dropping.
Another issue we had was when she wanted to buy something online or some game that you download, I would have to use my credit card and she would pay me the cash. A lot of times I didn’t want to use my credit card on these sites. I didn’t trust or recognize some of the places so I was leery about giving them my card number. And I would have to go through the whole process of setting up an account and creating a username and password. The bane of my existence is having to set up one more account and create a username and password.
What we decided:
She mentioned to me that a friend had a debit card and her parents put money on it for her. At first, I thought no way, she’s not getting a debit card. But then I thought, she is a responsible kid and it would solve the problem of cash falling everywhere. I am not one of those parents who is going to put money on her card for her. But she can certainly deposit all the money she has sitting around that she received as gifts. She’s also done a few jobs for people and earned some money that way.
Maybe this was a good way to learn responsibility and I trusted that she would never just blow through the money and overdraw her account.
We went to our bank and asked what her options were. She could have a checking and savings account, she would get a debit/credit card but no checks. This would all be linked to my account but she would never have access to my money or be able to view my balances. I however could view her account and all her transactions. So we opened up the account, she deposited money into her checking and 25% of it into her savings. Our rule is when you get money you have to put 1/4 of it into savings.
It has been so good for her!
Honestly, she has been so good with her account, she checks her balance online. When she wants to buy something she talks to me about it and asks my opinion (if it’s a larger amount). She plans it out and figures out how much it will be with tax and shipping and sometimes she decides it’s too much and that she doesn’t need it. When she does order something online she uses her card, not mine which I prefer.
She has never overdrawn her account. She’s always thinking ahead to when she will be getting money (we do give her money for her grades) so she can plan out her purchases if she is saving for something specific. When we are at the grocery store and she wants a drink and a pack of gum or something, she uses the self-check and puts her card in, and pays for it herself.
She likes being able to check out by herself, it boosts her confidence, I truly think it is a great way to let your child show you that they can be responsible and they can be trusted to do more and more things on their own. Becoming more independent and learning to have a good relationship with money are skills that every child needs to learn. She certainly takes after me and is very frugal and tries to get the best deal. This is why I let my 13yr old have a checking account.
This might not be for everyone.
I realize this might be a disaster for some people so you would probably want to wait until your child was older. Everybody is different and might have different views on money issues. This has been great for us! I want her to learn how to handle her money and prioritize spending now so she doesn’t have to learn it the hard way when she is a young adult. So many kids grow up not learning how to handle money. When they get out into the world they get in trouble with credit cards and overspending because they were never taught how to have a good relationship with money.
If you are struggling with money issues, here are a few articles that might help:
Parents, we need to do our job!
It is our job as parents to teach our kids about money and I don’t think there is anything wrong with starting early. If you are an adult still struggling with money maybe you can tell them some mistakes you’ve made and what you are doing to get back on track. You never want to overshare your finances. I never tell my daughter how much money we have but I tell her what we have to pay for and how much it costs for things like braces and school activities. I don’t guilt her, but I tell her things do cost money and we have to work hard to earn that money.
She is so grateful and appreciative of everything she has. I can honestly say that I have not raised an entitled child and she will do so well as she grows up and starts working and earning her own money. That’s all we can ask for right?
Let me know what things you have used to teach your kids about money, did they work?