Parents: Use This Foolproof Strategy to Keep Your Kids Away From Bad Spending

A preteen shops at a store.
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Parents, can you imagine giving your kid their own debit card?

Yeah, me neither. Between the impulsive spending, the endless temptations of iTunes games and the inevitable overdraft fees, my 10-year-old twins would plummet me into debt in no time.

But what if it’s a debit card that you can control?

The Greenlight card is a kids’ debit card with parental controls. It lets you set spending limits and choose exactly where your kid can spend money. That way they can learn how to spend responsibly — without sending you into a lifetime of debt.

A Real Strategy to Keep Your Kids Away From Bad Spending

In the short term, the Greenlight card is an easy and reliable way to make sure your kids will have the money they need when they need it — without the danger of letting them go hog wild and accidentally draining your bank account.

But the bigger picture is, it’s a smart and strategic tool for raising financially savvy kids.

Let’s face it: You don’t want your kids to make all the same money mistakes you did when you were young. It’s a fact that financial literacy is super-low these days. And, speaking as a parent, I know parents need all the help they can get, am I right?

Let Your Kids Learn Smart Spending — You’re in Control

The Greenlight card offers two categories to deposit money into: Spend Anywhere, which allows your kid to spend anywhere that takes Mastercard, and the parental control category. Here, you can dedicate a set amount of money that can only be spent in certain kinds of businesses — gas stations, restaurants, etc. You can also allow your kid to withdraw cash from ATMs, up to a set amount.

Although the Greenlight card is in your kid’s hands, you’re still officially the primary cardholder. You can get real-time alerts about where your kid is spending or when the balance gets low.

You start out with a one-month free trial, then it’s $4.99 a month, though it’s a flat fee that covers up to five children in your family.

More than Just a Debit Card

We get it; the last thing you want is another bill to pay. But Greenlight has features that take it beyond being just a debit card — it’s a strategy that can teach your kids to learn about money and stay away from bad spending.

You can set up Greenlight to automatically pay your kid’s allowance, either weekly or monthly. You can also set up one-time or recurring chores in the app that you can monitor and tie to the allowance.

If your kid needs money on the go, they can also send you a quick request, and you can put more money on the card instantly, if you want. (Greenlight won’t charge you extra fees for this.)

If your kid has a job, it’s easy to have their paychecks direct-deposited onto their card.

Greenlight also helps you encourage your child to save some of their allowance or income by letting you pay them interest on the card’s balance, at whatever rate you choose.

To get started, you and your child will download the Greenlight app, but you’ll each see different views of it. Your kid can use the app to check their card’s balance and set goals. Basically, they’re learning in real time how to manage money. As for you, the parent’s view of the app lets you set controls, get real-time alerts and view your child’s spending history.

Like any major card, Greenlight uses bank-level encryption to protect you and your child’s information.

This is a great way to teach your kids about money and keep them away from bad spending — it takes just minutes to sign up.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. His two adorable children would spend every last penny in his bank account on iPad games if they could, but they can’t.