When I was 8 years old my dad took me into Citibank to open my very first savings account. He said it would teach me the value of a dollar and the importance of saving. I don’t remember how much I started my account with and if I deposited on a regular basis but I do remember being the talk of the bank when I would go in to make a deposit or withdrawal.
Imagine an 8 year old in front of you in line at the ATM… on their tipy toes trying… to put in their pin number.
Freaking adorable, right?
Yes, yes, I was.
Around the time I was 12 or 13 I jumped on the tidal wave that would become the craze early. My best friend at the time, Danielle, had a parent that worked at Visa and had gotten Danielle one of these new pre-paid cards and all I remember feeling was innate, intense and insane jealousy when she had (what looked like) her own “credit card”!
In all reality it was a pre-paid card that her parents (or others) could load money onto for her to use. But all I saw was a shiny piece of plastic, a Visa logo and her name embossed into the bottom left corner.
While my once snazzy bank account had a card to it, it had my dad’s name on it since I was under 18. I wanted, no, I needed (as much as 12 year olds need) my own card with my own name.
“I WANT!!!!!” I told my parents enthusiastically. At the time a pre-paid card for a teenager was unheard of but after extensive research and parent to parent conversations between my folks and Danielle’s I had my very own, shiny, embossed, Visa card. For me, it felt like a right of passage.
Soon my allowance was being loaded onto the card and I could use said card anywhere Visa was accepted. I remember when I would use the card at stores at the mall the cashiers would give me a sort of “yeah right” look every once in a while but I could easily whip out my ID (middle school IDs FTW!) and show them it was my card. I was”the bee’s knees” (for lack of a better phrase).
For the holidays family members would load money onto the card instead of sending checks through the mail and I was given instant access to the money instead of waiting for checks to clear. Life was good.
My parents and I would sit down and look at my statements to see where and what I spending most of my money on and I soon learned how to manage money better.
I became much more conscious of my available money and spending habits having to learn at a young age about managing money. Having this sort of card didn’t make me crave credit when I was of age but rather made me much more mindful of purchases and debits from my account. In fact, it wasn’t until I was 23 that I actually got my first credit card when I realized that debit cards don’t build credit!
While, with every bone in my body, I don’t endorse the use of credit with teens I cannot endorse pre-paid cards enough to teens looking for an easy way to receive and keep track of money.
Please note, this is no way shape or form an advertisement or endorsement for Visa. I only mentioned their name and card since that is what I used and knew of first hand.