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Kids in a sweet shop: how to #keepcontrolofspending

retro 1480621 640The boy is off to senior school in September. He will be walking to and from school past a chip shop, several sweet shops, a bakery and numerous cafes. The boy and his friends have already planned how they are going to gorge themselves on carbs on the way home: so much so that one of his friends has even decided he’s going to walk home with the boy even though he doesn’t live in the same direction and is meant to go home on the school minibus.

Such feeding opportunities of course cost money. It’s totally my fault but I have neglected to give him any financial education into budgeting. I did try once – I even tried to link the provision of pocket money to tidying bedrooms and other tasks – but I kind of forgot after a while and just paid up for whatever treats he wanted. Now I think I need to make his finances more formal as otherwise, all this spending on sweets and crisps on the journeys to and from school will bankrupt me. And there are other costs too: mobile phone credits, Fifa points all add up.

But I don’t think that handing over a fiver or tenner a week is the answer. It needs to be more sophisticated: a bank account or maybe a prepaid card as an introduction into the adult world of finance. I like the idea of prepaid cards – MoneySavingExpert names Nimbl, a prepaid debit Mastercard, as a good option. There is a charge of £10 a year (after an initial three month free period) and the child can withdraw cash for free once a month as well as using it like a debit card (but not in off licences or betting shops). It can also be used as a smartphone app. The card needs to be set up by the parent and it offers a good level of control: you can choose where and for what it is used.

Setting up a bank account seems a bit serious, somehow. However, they are free from charges. I’m going to do a bit more research first but apparently the TSB Under 19s account is good. I’m just wary of letting an 11 year old loose with a bank account. Am I right to be so? What cards or accounts have your children got? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018