I often regret not learning more about personal finance and frugality when I was younger. While my husband and I lived through lean times in our early marriage, the frugality I practiced was not a passion, it was a survival mechanism. As we earned more (and added to our brood) our expenses grew as well, and we eventually found ourselves in a place that perciptated the start of this blog.
I don’t remember ever being a saver. If I got a dollar I immediately went and spent it on 100 pieces of penny candy (yes, I’m that old). I remember saving up money for college, but it quickly disappeared with all the expenses and extras I ‘needed’ at the time.
When I had expenses as a teen during the school year (I only worked over the summers) I loathed having to ask for $5 here and another $10 there ($10 used to fill my gas tank).
When I was earning money as a teen and college student, it was spending money. I never really concerned myself with saving up, monitoring my spending closely, or planning ahead. This caused all kinds of issues including overdraft fees, debt from school loans, and later credit card debt.
I didn’t have any education about personal finance while I was at home or from school. So once I went to school and then started a family, I suddenly had to learn on my feet. It took me many years to correct my poor spending habits. I still battle my them nearly every day, and am still paying off debt from long ago.
I want my kids to have the opportunity to start their lives without making a financial mess that takes year to clean up. The best way for me to teach them what not to do is by modeling what to do now, talking to them openly, and helping them make mistakes now when they are not as costly.
Recently, BillMyParents contacted me to share a pre-paid card with my 13 year old and I jumped at the opportunity. While he is a smart kid, he has his mother’s genes and often thinks only of what’s next on his list to buy, not the long-term. That may be ‘normal’ for a teenager, but I only have 4-5 more years of financial education at home before he goes off to college or the ‘real world’. I need to make those years count.
What is BillMyParents?
“Bill my parents.” It’s a clever name for an equally clever product. The BillMyParents prepaid card is designed to help teens and students learn how to spend smarter. Teens spend billions of dollars every year so it’s important that they learn to manage their money now before they are on their own. With the job sector being so tough for recent college graduates it’s more important than ever to teach our kids to manage their money while they are at home. That’s where BillMyParents comes in.
How to Set Up a Bill My Parents Card:
The process for setting up a card was simple enough. You simply go to billmyparents.com and walk through the super simple signup. You’ll need your own info including a credit or debit card, and your teen’s email address. It took me about 5 minutes to get it set up. You can choose the design of your teen’s card as well.
Your kids will have their own login to track their spending, and better yet you can track their spending too. You can even opt to receive text messages when your teen uses their card. The benefit of this feature is that it allows you to monitor them now before they are off in the ‘wild’.
Fees for Bill My Parents Card:
There are fees associated with the card, as there are with most pre-paid cards and bank accounts. The fee list below includes all the fees associated with the card. I checked other pre-paid cards and most offer similar or higher fees, so I feel the fees are in line with the industry. While I don’t relish the idea of paying fees I also know that I would rather pay $3.95/month than have to help my teen pay off hefty overdraft fees.
The card does not charge for signature or pin based transactions by the cardholder and costs less to load from your bank account than your credit card. If you have a cashback credit card it may make sense to load from that card since the cashback would likely cover the load fee and the monthly fee for your teen’s card.
Our Bill My Parents card
My son, Nathan, received his BillMyParents card at the end of last week. It has an allowance on the card to spend on what he needs and wants. I’ve found already that he’s more cautious with his card than he is with cash or my money. While he’s discussed several things he wants to buy, he has yet to buy anything.
Getting the card opened up a great conversation about the differences between cash, credit, pre-paid cards, and debit cards. We talked about how each type of money changes our spending habits, and which kind of money make the most sense to use in various situations.
We also had a discussion about fees from banks, credit card interest rates, and the increasing fees at many banks. As a pre-paid card the Bill My Parents card does have fees for various transactions, and I showed him the legalese that comes along with the card, and the specific fees.
Even though he has yet to spend a dime, I still see huge benefits that came with our card. The main one being the number of discussions the card has opened up in our house about money, credit cards, banks, and spending habits. While it’s true these are topics that we may have discussed at other times, it definitely has brought a whole new level of understanding along with it’s shiny and sleek design.
I’ll be sharing more about how we are using the Bill My Parents card, and a discussion I have with my teen about spending habits and the card soon.
For more info or to signup for a Bill My Parents card visit www.billmyparents.com
Do you have any advice for teaching teens about smart money management?
Disclosure: This post is part of a series being sponsored by BillMyParents on theCentsibleLife.com.