Do You Pay Your Kids?

Money is a tricky subject and every family manages it differently. I’m trying something new with Greenlight.

My oldest is 32. Not to sound all nostalgic, but money was simpler when she was growing up. No phones. Lots of chores done for the sake of our homeschooling family. No allowance, but we met needs as they came up. She and her siblings earned money babysitting and later had jobs.

There is a 20-year span between my oldest and youngest – a lot has changed.

My youngest kids are now 12  and 14. They’re growing up in a radically different world and somewhat different family. They go to school, play lots of sports, go to the local pool and gym with their friends, attend athletic camps, and are generally busy outside of our home.

We’re trying something new.

Greenlight

Last weekend I set up an account with Greenlight. Their website says, “Greenlight® is the debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones with flexible parental controls.”

[After I started writing this, I found out I can refer friends! When you use this special link, we’ll both get $10!]

This is different from a standard debit card because I preloaded my parent account and now I can transfer small amounts (even $1) as often as I like. The money is immediately added to their cards.

We don’t pay them for basic household chores, but when I offer an extra chore, like vacuuming my car, I can pay them without scraping together loose change! That’s a game-changer for me.

And with a wedding at our house next month, there is plenty of extra work to be done, which means money to be earned.

Want to go to the movies with your friends? Ask mom for a paid chore.

Need money to pay for lunch at a basketball tournament? Mom can put extra cash on your card. If you want to spend more than she gave you, check your balance and see if you have enough.

With a smartphone, kids can check their Greenlight app to see the current balance on their cards and track their purchases.

How many times have I asked, “Where did that $5 go?” and been met with, “I don’t know.” Now we’ll know exactly when and where it was spent.

There are lots of other features:

  • Money can be put in permission-based categories such as “spend anywhere” or spend only at a specific place.
  • Track chores and pay automatically.
  • Money can be divided into categories of: spend, save, give.
  • Real-time notifications so you know where and when your kids are spending money.
  • Lost cards can be turned off with one tap on the app.

When my boys have cash, it disappears quickly. I hope this slows them down because they’ll see more clearly the value of their work. How many weeds did I pull for this money? Do I really want to spend it on candy at the pool?

They’ll also see how quickly money is gone if they forget to pack food for an event and spend it on snacks.

This could be even more useful for kids who struggle with impulsivity or who are easily tricked into giving their cash away.

We’re trying it for free for 30 days. Will it be worth the $4.99/month fee per family? We’ll decide at the end of the summer. I expect it’s going to be a bargain for the stress it lifts off me.

We’ve had a lot of tension over money because situations pop up all the time and I never have cash. I hate being the mom whose kid rides to an event with someone and they end up buying food for my child when they stop after a game. Or I scrambled for cash but didn’t send quite enough.

This will help with birthday money from grandparents too. A portion can go on the card for spending and the balance will be saved for something special.

Greenlight is brand new to us, but I see the potential for it being really positive.

If you decided to try it, you can use this special link and we’ll both get $10!

I’m curious, how do you manage money with your kids?

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

7 Comments

  1. Deb Jones
    June 13, 2019

    Lisa, I am so excited to learn about this and think I will try it for my special needs adult son!

    We just had a discussion an hour ago about him spending money at the dollar store using his debit card and now is short for his monthly bills. This looks like a great solution and still keeps him feeling like a grown-up with his own debit card. We have talked until blue in the face about his risk of huge bank fees, but ya know… FAS thinking! Tough to get through to him that Mom & Dad will not always catch this in time and make up the difference so he doesn’t go in the red!

    Let me be your first referral! 😀

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 13, 2019

      I LOVE this. One interesting feature is you can control how much money they spend at different stores. For instance, you could set a $10/month limit at the Dollar Store and when it’s gone, the card is blocked from spending more until the month.

      Reply
  2. Emily
    June 13, 2019

    I kind of want this for me….

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 15, 2019

      Get one!

      Reply
  3. Sarah
    June 19, 2019

    This is excellent. We have used a similar (Australian based) one called Spriggy for the last couple years. I love that I can transfer money to my daughter immediately, through the app, for when she’s out buying something I’m paying for.

    Reply
  4. Cici
    July 11, 2019

    Bluebird by American Express is similar to this in the ease of transferring money. It doesn’t have extra features but it is free. As the master card holder you can have as money accounts under yours as you wish. It also works for direct deposit if they have a job and tax refunds. The only drawback is the minimum age is 13.

    Reply
  5. Kaitlin
    January 31, 2020

    Lisa, I’d love to hear how this went for you all! It sounds very helpful for teaching kids how to earn, spend, and save wisely!!

    Reply

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