In February, we opened a checking account for Punk #1, who is 13.
He already had a couple of savings accounts, but this was to be an account he not only knew about, but had relatively unfettered access to. ¬† There are a lot of¬†options for student bank accounts, but one of my closest friends is a banker, so naturally, we used his bank. ¬† Was it the best possible bank account? ¬†I have no idea. ¬†I trust my friend when it comes to banking and investing advice. ¬† If he says an account is good, I go for it. ¬†I have him explain it to me, but I go for it. ¬†If it helps him make his monthly quota, good for him. ¬†Yes, there are ways to¬†easily compare bank accounts, but I have the best one: a knowledgeable friend with my best interests at heart.
The rules for the kid were simple:
1. ¬†Balance the checkbook. ¬†If at any time his balance and the bank’s balance didn’t match, he lost it.
2. ¬†No overdrafts. ¬†If he gets one overdraft, we’re going to close the account and let him start bartering with marbles.
Six months later, how is he doing?
He has obeyed the rules perfectly. ¬†His balance matches within the limits of the tiny interest deposits he gets and he hasn’t gotten any overdrafts.
What he hasn’t done is saved anything. ¬† When he has money, he spends it.
The first thing he did was open a Paypal account and link it to his checking account.
The second thing he did was spend most of his money on Minecrack mods and League of Legends buffs.
So we’re working on that. ¬†I think our next step is to start enforcing our rule about saving money. ¬†We haven’t forced that issue in months. ¬†It’s time for him to start socking away 25% of everything he makes.
To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t used his debit card in any store. ¬†I don’t know if the card has made it out of the house. ¬†Ideally, I’d like him to use it when he signs up for a card tournament. ¬†I keep meaning to take him to get an ID, just to make in-store purchases easier for him. ¬†In the meantime, he’s just not spending his money in the real world.
That will come. ¬†For now, the things he’s interested are all best paid for online. ¬†I have a hard time forcing him to spend money on things he doesn’t like, although I do that every month.
What do you think? ¬†How do you help a teenager learn to manage money?