4 Ways that Debit Cards are Beneficial for Young Teens

By Tracy L. Hirsch

It may seem like giving your 13-year-old a debit card is too much too soon, but in this digital age, debit cards are quickly replacing cash. Here’s how to wisely integrate a debit card while teaching your preteens and teens important lessons about finances and budgeting.

When your children are in preschool and elementary school, dollar bills and coins are the perfect way to teach them about money. As your children enter their preteen and early teenage years, it’s a good idea to build on those basic money concepts by introducing them to debit cards.

You may be thinking, “Really? Isn’t that going to be confusing for them? Won’t that seem like a license to overspend?” My answer to that is “no” — as long as you take the time to teach them how to be responsible with it!

Giving your child a debit card when they are a preteen or young teenager can be beneficial as it prepares them for adulthood. All adults have debit cards, so why not teach them as early as possible how to use those cards wisely? That way, they will have the concept of budgeting ingrained in them for several years before they live on their own.

If you feel apprehensive about linking a regular debit card to a checking account, you could start out with a prepaid debit card to ensure that there’s no way for them to overdraft their account. Once they have enough practice, you can find a bank that has a debit card program for young teens.

Here are four tips on how to make a debit card work for you and your preteens or teenagers.

Remember: Debit cards teach your teens how to keep track of saving and spending!

Here are four tips on how to make a debit card work for you and your preteens or teenagers.

1.) Have them earn the money that’s attached to the debit card. It’s not beneficial to just add money to their bank account whenever they need something. It’s best to make sure that they earn that money in order to understand the reward of working hard.

Whenever your child does an extra chore, assign a value to it. For example, unloading the dishwasher could earn them $2, whereas mowing the front lawn could earn them $15.

If your child wants to go out for icecream with their friends or wants to go to a theme park for the afternoon, they can save up for these outings. In order for them to see what’s being added and subtracted, it’s vitally important to implement the tip below.

2.) Give them a checkbook register, and show them how to use it. Instead of cashing and writing checks, your child will be receiving electronic deposits and spending with their debit card. Regardless of whether they’re spending money with paper or card, a check register will help them keep track of their money (all the while preparing them for adulthood).

Set aside some one-on-one quiet time with your child, and show them how to add and subtract from their register. Tell them that when they earn money for unloading the dishwasher, you will deposit $2.00 into their account, and they will need to write “Chore – Dishwasher” in the description, and write “$2.00” in the deposit column. Then show them how to update the balance.

For example, if they have already have $20.00 in their checking account, and they earn $2.00 for unloading the dishwasher, the total balance is now $22.00. Next, show them that if they spend $5.00 on a meal at the local burger place, they need to put the name of the business in the description, and put “$5.00” in the withdrawal column, and update the balance to $17.00.

3.) Show them how to budget with their register. If your 13-year old wants to go to a theme park with their friends, and the ticket is $40.00, explain to them that they can only purchase the ticket once the balance in their register is over $40.00. If their balance is $17.00, you can suggest that they can mow the front lawn for $15.00 and take care of their younger sibling for an hour while you run a quick errand for $10.00.

Show them that when they add $25.00 to the $17.00 balance, they will have a $42.00 balance, which will give them enough money to purchase the theme park ticket.

4.) Set up a weekly meeting to review their register and budget with them. It’s a good idea to sit down with your child at the end of each week to make sure that their online bank statement total matches up with the current total in their check register. Show your child the bank statement balance, and ask them if it matches the balance in their register.

If it doesn’t match up, tell your child that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that you’re proud of them for working hard and for being willing to learn something new. Then have your child look at the itemized bank statement so that they can find which deposit(s) and/or purchase(s) they forgot to record in their register.

Once they find them on their own, have them enter those into their checkbook and update the balance. Be sure to let them know that you’re proud of them for learning skills that they will use every single day when they become adults!

Teaching your older kids about money can seem like a daunting task, but when you show them the basic building blocks of spending, saving, and budgeting, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they get the hang of it.

Do your preteens or teens have their own debit card? If so, do you have any additional tips that you would recommend? Please share them in the comment section of our Facebook post — we would love to hear to hear your suggestions!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

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