Writing Archive


The Prepaid Card for Kids

We just received another offer for a branded prepaid, reloadable, card for our kids: convenient when teens need money and parents don’t have cash on hand; and cash can be lost or stolen.

Leaving aside the slightly disturbing marketing that envisions us having teenage kids right now, I’m a firm believer in financial education for every age, and take any opportunity to share or instill good habits so I took a closer look at the educational possibilities this presents.

Somewhat similar to the starter checking accounts a friend once had back when we were 16, this sort of card gives teenagers limited credit card-like freedoms: the ability to pay with plastic, see their purchases tracked online (as do the parents), and receive email alerts about card activity.

The letter was geared toward the parents, but I would expect that the email alerts could be shared with the kids.

The cards are reloadable, has an ATM access feature that can be turned on or off at will, and most of these offers across brands seem to come with loss or fraud protection.

The potential problems I could see in sending my fictional children out into the world with this card would be if I hadn’t taught them about the more fundamental lessons about money. If I’m just loading them up on prepaid cards when they haven’t learned anything about the value of money, decision-making in shopping, bargaining, or how marketing and advertising works, that would be problematic and they would be learning more of those lessons the hard way. But that leads into a whole other conversation about Nature vs. Nurture and the kind of spending/saving personality they might have as well, I think.

After reading through all the promotional information, I didn’t find any mention of fees or how the card issuers make their money, so that’s not entirely clear.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about these products that closely mimic financial instruments that will be readily available once kids are of age?


Do you treat time like money?

It’s said you can’t save time. We all get the same amount of time, precisely 24 hours in a day, and you either use it or lose it.

Basically, this is true. You make choices as your days and weeks wear on, and whether or not they prove out, the time allotted for you to dial will expire.

So what do you do with that time? Do you:

A) try to make the most of every single day, living in the moment?
B) try to cram as much work as you can into the “early” days, weeks, or months, towards a later payoff?
C) relax now, because there will be plenty of time later to do all the serious stuff of earning?

Does your approach to time and life mirror your approach to money and savings?

And if you’re an employee with the ability to earn and roll over vacation and sick time, would you save and hoard that “time” as well? Or do you prefer to use it up as you go?

I’m personally all kinds of a hoarder so I’m always uncomfortable with less than 100 hours of vacation time saved, even though I’ve never taken more than a few days off at a time before. There’s a sense that it’s safest to have at least two weeks of paid time off available just in case of emergency to supplement any sick leave in case of illness or family problems.


Tips for Participating in and Hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance

I’ve found a few articles by bloggers that will be helpful for others who would like to participate in or host the Carnival of Personal Finance, or any blog Carnival for that matter. I’ll be keeping this list on a separate page for more Carnival resources.

Here are the first three that I’ve included, but if you know of more, please leave a comment here.