An Update on the Youth Cash Card Experiment

Peyton with His Wells Fargo Youth Cash Card
My Youngest Son with His Wells Fargo Youth Cash Card

Remember back in December when I wrote about how I was rethinking my kids’ allowances? Well, it’s been a little over six months since we opened youth cash cards for our kids and I thought it would be good to give you an update.

So far, so good!

Not every bank offers youth cash cards. We bank with Wells Fargo and they offer them (unfortunately, I did a search on Wells Fargo’s website and didn’t find much information so you’ll probably need to speak to a banker).

Our boys love them. They don’t have to worry about cash. They can take their cards with them wherever they go and use them just like a debit card. Several of the merchants we have gone to have made comments about the kids using a debit card, which I thought was kind of cool. A couple of them wouldn’t accept the cards because they were suspicious of the fact that they were kids. But, for the most part, I would say this has been a success.

I set up my account to automatically deposit their allowances on the 1st of every month. It forces the boys to budget their money, which I think is a good thing.

One frustrating aspect was the fact that the boys weren’t very good at keeping track of their balances and were always asking me to check them for them (they don’t have web access). I showed them how to keep track of their balance in a journal and they did pretty good with that. Then I figured out that they could check their balance over the phone and showed them how to do that.

I get their statements sent to me once a month so they know that I or their mother will see everything they spend. I also have access to their accounts through my online account. The boys don’t have access to their accounts online, which is okay with me.

Anyway, for those of you looking for a solution to giving kids cash in a cashless society, I would recommend you look into getting them a youth cash card.

Stuck at $620 – An Update on Beth’s Fundraiser


First off, thanks to those who helped Beth with a contribution towards her fundraising goal. Thanks to some big contributions (that had nothing to do with yesterday’s post), Beth is now 41% towards her goal. The bad news is that she’s stuck at $620. The good news is that you can still make a contribution if you so desire. Just visit Beth’s Fundraising Page and click on the “Support Me” icon.

NOTE: I don’t normally get involved with this kind of stuff but made an exception for a friend. Don’t worry, I won’t be harrassing AFM readers with all kinds of fundraisers. I promise.

Kids and Money – Is the Money Really Theirs?

It’s a common problem. Kids get a birthday card with a check and the first thing they want to do is cash it and immediately go spend it. Why do kids do this? David Owen, author of The First National Bank of Dad*, thinks the reason is because kids typically have no concept of saving and therefore can’t understand or see the benefits of saving money. In other words, there’s no incentive for them to save. The interest that a bank savings account pays is so small that kids simply can’t see their money grow and therefore can’t see the value of saving their money.

So, the author decided to set up his own bank for his two kids. In order to inspire them to save, he decided to pay them 5% per month on their money and he kept track of their accounts using Quicken. To get an idea of how generous that is, a $100 deposited in the First National Bank of Dad would grow to nearly $180 in one year. That’s an 80% annual rate of return.

His goal as a parent was to teach his kids financial responsibility and his theory was that IF he gave his kids an incentive to save, that they would save on their own with no prompting. According to the author, his plan worked. His kids didn’t feel the pressure to spend money haphazzardly for fear of mom and dad snatching it away from them and stashing it in some bank account where it couldn’t be touched.

He also took a very hands-off approach with how his kids spent their money. His belief was that kids have to learn the consequences of their actions and the only way they can do that is to feel 100% ownership of their money. Enough mistakes with their money and they will eventually learn. It’s a bit of a leap of faith but I agree with the author. If kids are constantly being told what they can and can’t do with their money (I have been guilty of this a time or two), they will never consider it theirs.

I think this is very wise thinking—even if it means that kids make some mistakes. Most likely it’s better to learn from their mistakes when they are young than to have learn when they older and the stakes are much higher. Therefore, I’m going to take a more hands-off approach with my kids.

There are several other interesting ideas I read in the book that I’m going to cover in separate posts. I think this will be a fun series of posts.

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PLEASE Help a Worthy Cause

Beth has been a reader of AFM for a long time. Over the last couple of years we have become friends through email.

I found out this morning that she is in the process of collecting donations for a walk she will be doing in September for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She lost her husband in 2003 and has taken up the cause in hopes of preventing other tragedies. I think it’s a worthy cause.

I thought it would be cool if we could help her meet her goal of raising $1,500. As of this writing she has raised just under $400 so she has a ways to go in order to meet her goal.

To make this fun I thought I’d challenge AFM readers to help Beth meet her goal. I will contribute $50 today and another $50 in September IF we can get 51 people to give $20 (or 102 people to give $10) each towards Beth’s goal.

Will you help?

If so, please head over to Beth’s Fundraiser Page and make your $20 pledge. I’ll keep track of the balance and let you know of the progress until the goal is met.

Oh, and to put this in perspective…according to my blog stats, AFM has roughly 5,200 subscribers. Surely 51 of those readers can help out.

Question of the Day – Is the iPod Dead?

I just read a somewhat interesting article that raised the possibility that Apple may kill off the iPod. Personally, I think the author is just trying to get some attention and the way to do that is to make some bold headline like, “Is the iPod a Goner?” I’ll admit it got my attention.

I don’t think the iPod is a goner. My wife bought me the 160 GB Classic last year and I LOVE IT! I would not want to be without it. I also would not want to have to use my phone as a music player. I like having them separate.

I hope Apple continues to make the iPod and make it better. They could do lots of enhancements like:

1. Allow albums to be arranged in order of the release year. I sometimes like to listen to albums in chronological order but the iPod lists everything in alphabetical order.

2. Allow all the songs by one artist to be displayed in alphabetical order. Yes, you can use the search feature and you can see ALL songs in alphabetical order…it’s just a hassle if you have lots of songs.

3. Make the iPod bigger. I hate to say it but even with a 160 GB iPod, I’m running out of room. It’s not so much because I have a lot of music (I do) but because I rip my music at a high quality, which takes up more space. A 250 GB (or bigger) iPod would be lovely.

4. Allow for more album information. It would be cool to add composer information and guest artist information.

I don’t think the iPod is dead. What do you think?

What Customers Want From Customer Service

Interesting article over on MSN about what customers want from customer service. Their list:

• To be greeted promptly—whether in person, on the phone or via a quick-loading Web site.
• To have concerns addressed with sensitivity and efficiency—with eye contact if the exchange is person-to-person.
• Clear communication from people who know what they’re talking about.
• Individualized solutions rather than cookie-cutter responses that apply to one and all regardless of unique needs or circumstances.

Bottom line: Customers want to be treated like they’re important and valued.

Here’s what I want from customer service:

• A smile – A smile goes A LONG WAY!

• Friendly service – I hate feeling as though I’m inconveniencing them by shopping in their store or going through their checkout lane.

• No talking with other employees and ignoring me. – I don’t want fake attention but I don’t want to be ignored either.

• People who move slowly no matter how busy the store is. – I get so tired of watching kids walk around like they are 90 years old. If they wore pants that fit, they could move faster…lol.

The article mentions that people don’t like waiting. I don’t like waiting either but I can handle it if I think the employees are doing the best they can. That could be because I worked in the grocery business for nine years and was on the receiving end of people’s discontent with waiting.

I do think one area where most companies could improve customer service is with their phone systems. How many times have you heard, “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.” What does that mean? It loses it’s meaning when EVERY business you call has the same recorded message.