Kid-friendly personal finance tips from a former banker

This is a guest post by DiAna Kelley, founder of the Giving Me Life Foundationa nonprofit organization that teaches strategies about monthly budgeting, credit, and financial retirement to teenagers and young adults in order to create healthy financial lifestyles.

Below, DiAna focuses on tips about earning money for things they are good at, the importance of saving early, and talking to their parents about opening an account so that they can see their money grow. 

So you and your student are getting ready to think about high school and all the excitement it may bring. High school is a once in a lifetime experience for many students. Many will begin to think about school dances, extracurricular activities, colleges, but what about saving money?

It’s never too early to think about saving and budgeting money. With all of the costs associated with school activities and the rising cost of college, many students and parents are thinking about the best ways to save for the costly years ahead. Here are some tips to help you and your students save money for those expenses.

1. Look at what your student is good at and help them earn money for it. Is your child good at babysitting, dog sitting, mowing lawns, tutoring? Whatever gifts they have can help them earn money. The best part is your child can set their own hours and prices for doing the things they love.

2. Get the Greenlight card and app. The Greenlight card is an excellent way to teach students about budgeting money and managing an account using a debit card. It is also a great tool to help parents monitor how and when their students are spending their money. As parents you can transfer money onto your child’s Greenlight card instantly anytime. You can also monitor how they spend, approve or decline requests for money from your kids, and even determine which stores they can use their Greenlight card for purchases.

3. Set a goal to save money each year you are in school and stash it away into a savings account.

4. Learn how to create a budget. See if your student can write down all the things that they would need money for during the school year and the cost of it. Then total up the amount you would need for that year. Your student may need an adult to help with their budget. Once you know how much you need for the year, then you can divide that amount over 12 months and set aside an amount you have to earn for all of your expenses.

Let me give you an example: If all of your student’s expenses for that school year comes up to $500, then divide it by 12 which is about $42. So if your student completes chores around the house and charges your neighbors and friends for doing what they are good at, your student could easily get $42 a month. Say you rounded that amount up to $50. Then your student would have enough money to cover any expenses and save money into their account. It may take some practice, but trust me your student will see their money grow.

Stay tuned for more personal finance tips from DiAna to come!

Interested in Greenlight? Download and sign up here.

More about the Author:

DiAna Kelley, a native of Boston Massachusetts, has over 10 years of experience in retail banking and financial services. Working in the area of banking, she saw a great need to teach teens how to understand budgeting and money management. Her passion is to teach students money management skills early, so that will have the tools to make smart financial decisions in their future. She uses her combined knowledge and experience to provide resources and host workshops in the community through her nonprofit organization Giving Me Life Foundation, Inc.

More about the foundation:

Giving Me Life Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that teaches strategies about monthly budgeting, credit, and financial retirement to teenagers and young adults in order to create healthy financial lifestyles. For more information about this organization please visit www.givingmelife.org.

What your middle schooler should know about money

Going off to middle school is a big milestone — for your kids AND for you. No doubt, your kids will have more freedom. They may not need as much help with homework, and they may even ditch a few family movie nights to see their friends. 

But it’s a great time in their lives. They’re growing up, learning about themselves and starting to form their own opinions about the world. While they enjoy these new privileges, it’s still important to help them learn valuable life lessons — starting with money.

Opportunities to earn 

Middle school is a great age to start earning money [1]. How? Chores, babysitting, yard work, dog-walking, the list goes on. Get creative with it!

When your kids are earning money, they begin to understand what it means to spend it. They grasp the idea that money really doesn’t grow on trees — it comes from hard work. A great way to teach this is by giving them chores and allowance (you can find these in your Greenlight app!). 

Help them manage their spending

Middle schoolers are busier than ever before, and they’re enjoying their independence. When they head out to the movies or spend the night at a friend’s house, it’s important that you’re there with them… without physically being there. 

Greenlight lets you keep track of their spending habits directly from your phone. When they’re spending too much at a certain store, you can add spending controls. Or when they’re not saving enough, incentivize them with Parent-Paid Interest

Talk about saving vs. spending 

As your kids grow up, they may start to have more “wants.” Use this as a chance to talk about saving vs. spending. 

We recommend a “show, don’t tell” approach. Show them what happens when you save money over time. Nice car? Nest egg for college? Hoverboard? A healthy savings account will get them there! 

Understanding costs

When kids are young, they don’t always understand how much life costs. As you know, it can be… well, expensive. Not sure how to prepare them? Start here: 

  • The next time you’re grocery shopping, point out certain brands that are more expensive than others. See what they say! 
  • Tell them about variable expenses and fixed expenses [2]. For example, your car payment is a fixed expense — you know it’s the same every month, so you can budget around it. But a nice dinner out? That will vary depending on the restaurant, and we call that a variable expense. 
  • Show them the utility bill (fun, right?). Some people are shocked when they get their first utility bill. Do your kids a favor now and help them learn what drives the cost up or down — they’ll thank you later!

Keep the conversation going 

Your kids will still be under your roof for a while, so don’t let the conversation drop after middle school. Their understanding of money will evolve and so will your conversations. And when you hit a roadblock, you can always count on Greenlight to help you out!


[1] Money Talks News , [2] US News

What high school graduates should know about finances

You’ve made it to the finish line. After diplomas, passed tests and signed acceptance letters, it’s finally starting to feel real. 

If you’re scrambling at the last minute to send your kids off with all the knowledge and tips they need for the real world, take a breather. We have a step-by-step guide for raising financially-smart high school graduates.

The basics 

No matter what financial background they have or career path they choose, there are some basics that every high school senior should know before college. 

  • Credit vs. debit. Once they’re 18, they can get their own credit card. Here’s the thing: they have to be able to prove their independent income or have a co-signer (probably you!). Talk about credit vs. debit to decide if this is the right time for them. 
  • Everything costs money. Teach your kids how to budget and monitor their spending regularly so they don’t find themselves in a bad situation.
  • Wants vs. needs. For some kids, this is the first time they’ll be paying for gas on their own. For others, college loans are about to start piling up. Take this as a teaching moment to explain why needs should always come before wants.

Return on investment 

Whether they’re picking a major or starting their own business, an important lesson is return on investment. Start with something like, “What you do now affects what you do later. If you decide to push off your mandatory classes, you may wind up in college longer than you wanted to.” You can also use a calculator to figure out the ROI for a major or minor [1]. 

Keep communication open 

Just because they’re leaving home doesn’t mean they’re all alone — remind them of this. They have you and they have us. Setting the stage for strong communication is really important! 

Let Greenlight help 

Family finance, big decisions, money management… it’s kinda our thing. They may not be right down the hallway from you anymore, but you can use your app to stay connected and keep up the financial learnings. 

Or, send them a nice Greenlight Gift to let them know you’re thinking of them. With all of this help, they can handle anything that comes their way! 

[1] PayScale