- Family and Parenting
Get the Best Budgeting Tool for Teens
Visa Buxx Card
I remember several frustrating trips to the mall to buy clothes with my then 14 year old daughter. Although it was fun to shop with her, she LOVED clothes and looked cute in just about everything she put on, she had very expensive taste. I, on the other hand, prefer a bargain. The bigger the bargain, the more I like the item! This led to disagreements over what she could buy. She dressed properly, so that was rarely an issue. I really didn't want to decide for her what she could and couldn't buy, but the cost of many of the high fashion items she was drawn too resulted in me saying, "no" a lot. The day she came to me asking to buy a $78 designer t-shirt, was the day I decided to make a change.
Gone were the days of being able to say, "ok, you can buy four tops, four bottoms, and two pair of shoes." If I set her free in the mall with only those guidelines, I could end up with a credit card bill resembling a small car loan. I don't think it is necessary to spend exorbitant amounts of money on clothes. I also feared that if I did not teach her how to budget her money while she was young, that she would really struggle when she was older and on her own. I wanted her to learn to live within her means, and to take responsibility for the choices she made as well.
My husband and I sat down to determine how much money we allotted per year for her clothing, makeup, entertainment, and luxuries like getting her hair and nails done. We divided this money up monthly, and that became her budget. We discussed this idea with her. She loved the fact that she would have more autonomy. We also explained that with the right to control her own spending choices, came the responsibility of budgeting her money to make sure she had enough for the things she needed. I still held veto power over anything that I felt was inappropriate, but rarely had to use it.
I had heard about a product owned by Visa, called a Visa Buxx Card. This is a re-loadable debit card with the Visa logo on it, designed specifically for teens. It is used just like a credit card for purchases and is accepted everywhere that Visa is. It costs $15 to register your teen, and get them a personalized card. You add money to the Visa Buxx Card from your own credit card, via your computer or smart phone. Every time you fill the card it costs you $2.50. That's it. There are no other charges. It is also much better than buying gift cards which can cost you from $5 to $10 just to purchase. You can sign in on-line and view your child's balance, as well as the stores that they have spent their money at. The website also has tools for teens to help them learn the basics of money management.
I ordered my daughter her very own Visa Buxx Card. It arrived about ten days later. Armed with her new card and her high school photo ID card (the Visa Buxx Card works like any other Visa Card, and many times merchants will ask for a photo ID along with it) we went to the mall that weekend to shop for clothes. In the first store we went in, she pulled out a pair of $135 jeans and asked me what I thought. I told her that it was her choice, but that when her money was gone for the month, it was gone, and that her dad and I would not give her any more. She walked around the store for a few minutes looking at other items while still holding the jeans. A short time later she walked back up to me empty handed and said, "I'm not going to get those jeans, they are too expensive." And we walked out of the store in search of more reasonably priced clothing.
I couldn't believe it! It was working already! As soon as she was out of earshot, I called my husband. When he picked up I yelled, "I LOVE THIS CARD!" It was the perfect tool to teach my teen how to budget, and the best part was that I didn't have to say a word. Our shopping trips were fun again, and she was learning to manage her money already.
My daughter is now 19, working, and has her own debit card. She still keeps her Visa Buxx Card in her wallet. Sometimes I will put a small amount of money on it at Christmas or for her birthday instead of buying gift cards. She also keeps it for emergencies. I can put up to $515 on that card from my computer, within 30 seconds, if she ever needs money and is away from home. My daughter is a college student studying fashion, she works as a stylist at a high end women's clothing store. She still loves clothes, but has learned to budget her clothing allowance much better over the past five years. Now she buys a few nice pieces on sale, and fills in her wardrobe with much less expensive items from stores like Forever 21, H & M, consignment shops and even thrift stores.
The Visa Buxx Card worked so well for my daughter, that I not only got my 15 year old son one, but I recommend it to all my friends with teens. The best part about this card is that it looks, and works on the merchant's end, just like a credit card. But if your child tries to buy an item whose cost exceeds the balance in their Visa Buxx account, their purchase will be declined. Another very valuable lesson for them to learn. I was with my daughter the first time that this happened to her. She walked away from the check-out counter and turned to me and said, "That was embarrassing!" After that, she began to pay much closer attention to the balance in her account. The Visa Buxx Card is a kind and gentle way of welcoming your children to the adult world of finances.