Getting my kids their own debit cards

When Jase was five we began giving him a small allowance to teach him about money. In the beginning, I would put cash in his wallet. When he went to store, he paid for his items. We did the same for Lexie when she turned five. (For those of you who don’t know, the kids are now 12 and 9.)

Then in 2015, the kids received iPads for Christmas and with that came online purchases for apps and games. As online purchases became a norm and with Jase making money doing yard work, it became easier to keep track of their money on a spreadsheet.

As time passed, we ended up just keeping track of their money virtually and stopped putting cash in their wallets. It was easier with online purchases or for the times when we were out at the store and they didn’t have their money with them.

But this meant that I had to know how much they had. I would have to remember to check the spreadsheet before we left or before the kids bought anything online. The information was tied to this one file and the kids didn’t have access to it. And with us making purchases for them and just keeping a running tab, we worried they weren’t effectively learning money management.

We decided to look into other ways to handle their money or more importantly, put them back in charge of their money. We looked at apps, but they didn’t improve what we were already doing. My husband’s office uses a debit card through Wal-mart, but it charges a fee every time you add money which we would be doing weekly for their allowance. We were going to look into a PayPal account but while it may do what we want, it didn’t have the ease of access for us to oversee their accounts.

A quick internet search led us to the answer to our problem. We found three programs designed to let kids or teens have their own debit card with proper parental monitoring.

Current offers a Visa card for teens. It allows teens to put money into three different wallets – savings, giving and spending. Parents can set up allowances and chore charts and have the option to set spending limits and block purchases from certain categories.

The main negative in our case was that your child had to be 13 to have a card.

Price: $3/month for one kid, $4/month for two kids (each additional kid is an additional $1/month) – billed upfront yearly.

Greenlight offers a Mastercard for teens. While similar to Current, it does not offer payment for chores, and there is no way to divide money into savings, giving and spending categories. The card also cannot be used at ATMs or to get cash backs on purchases.

Price: $4.99/month per family.

FamZoo also offers a Mastercard. With this program you can do a virtual tracking of money or you can opt to get a debt card attached to your child’s account. If you opt for a debt card for anyone under 13, the card will be in your name, but after they turn 13, the debit card can be in the teen’s name. You can divide the money into savings, spending and giving but each one will be on a different card. You can also set up allowance and chores.

Price: $5.99/month for up to 4 cards. There is a discount if you pre-pay making the amount as low as $2.50/month.

After weighing the pros and cons of each card and reading reviews for each program, we decided to go with FamZoo. We signed up for three cards – one for each child and then one for me (aka The Bank). My card holds the money I want to be able to transfer to their cards.

We loaded the app on Jase’s phone and Lexie’s iPad. They have their own log ins and can only see their own information. On my app, I see all accounts and can review their purchases.

They have tried them out at the store with no problems, and we linked their cards to their iTunes and Xbox Live accounts.

The only negative we have had so far is that I put money on Lexie’s card for the school book fair, but they couldn’t process her payment. They only take credit cards and hers is a debit card. (Actually, it brought up a screen where the librarian could call and process the payment, but the librarian wasn’t willing to do that for fear it would take too long.) It worked out okay as I had my credit card with me. Seconds after making the transaction, I moved the money out of Lexie’s account and back into my FamZoo account. Problem solved.

I think we are going to like the FamZoo cards, and I definitely think it will help the kids be more aware of their money and where they are spending it. It will put the money management back in their control instead of mine.


Today’s Featured Author – Connie B. Dowell

Please welcome author Connie B. Dowell to my blog. Her book, The Orchid Caper, is now available on pre-order on Amazon. The book will be released on April 11, 2017.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi. I’m Connie and I like cheese. Also, I write mostly for young adults, largely fiction with a little nonfiction too. In my spare time, I knit absurdly large and warm things, paint and draw a lot, and sometimes try to make noises on the violin.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Most of my time is spent chasing an almost seventeen-month-old boy with one ambition: to risk life and limb in new and unusual ways. When he is not testing his limits, that’s when I write and work as book publicist. Basically, my working hours exist in five minute bursts when he is occupied with toy cars.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always start with a big picture outline, but I don’t know how it will play out scene by scene until shortly before I work on that particular scene. Then I micro-outline the upcoming scene or two before I write them.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Orchid Caper, now available on pre-order, is the first in a planned trilogy of wacky nature-themed heist books. A young burglar and a college kid who’s more than he seems are brought together in a smelly surprise and team up to steal…not a precious diamond, not a boatload of cash. Nope. A flower. But what a flower it is.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, one day I thought Wouldn’t it be fun to write a horror story that starts with a mysterious fart? Then—for some reason—I started to write to see where it went. Obviously, it didn’t turn out to be a horror story…unless you’re a pair of underwear, that is.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Alas, if I tell too much of the plot, I’ll be revealing the ending of The Orchid Caper. But I can say that there’s more nature-themed thievery and that the second installment will showcase the same level of maturity and serious tone as the flatulence-laden first volume.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m slowly but surely plodding through Phoebe North’s Starglass. I say plodding not because I don’t enjoy it. It’s got spaceships and a murder mystery, pretty good stuff. It’s just that with writing and work and a toddler and no childcare, my reading time is limited to ten minutes at night before I realize I am too tired and brain-fried to put any more into my head.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I once thought I was going to be a lawyer. I even went to law school for a whole disastrous year. Side note: “Because I said so” is not actually an acceptable legal argument.

Book Blurb

orchid-caper-working-01A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?

All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

With her dad’s store on its last legs, Darlene needs the cash she’ll get when the job is done. Ian’s in it to win a bet. Can their rag-tag team pinch the flower right under their mark’s nose? And can they remember not to eat beans for breakfast?

About the Author

author-photo-c-dowellConnie B. Dowell can’t resist breaking the law…on the page, that is. She spins tales of nefarious folks and the people who catch them. In addition to The Orchid Caper, she has written The Poison in All of Us, a young adult historical mystery novella set in 1918. A former university writing center coordinator, Connie also authored You Can Love Writing: A Guide to Get through Your College Papers and Like It. When not writing, she is a work-at-home parent and a law abiding citizen. Connie lives in central Virginia with her husband and son (and soon a daughter).

You can find out more about Connie on her website.


The Orchid Caper is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released April 11, 2017.

Today’s Featured Author: Catherine Converse

Today I have Catherine Converse, author of The In Between and Fade to Silver, on my blog talking about her life as an author.


Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I am a mom full time right now. So my writing time is quite limited. Everyone is at pre-school/school three days a week so I squeeze a few hours in those days. But it is super hard to find the time right now, but it’s also my sanity. Writing soothes me in the chaos.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a writer is setting the stories free. I love releasing them into the world and making them real. It is such a great feeling. The worst is what it feels like to stare at a blank page or feel completely stuck. Not fun!

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The worst advice (as a self-pub author) has been to fit into a formula. This story should be so and so # of words and characters fits these molds and story has a defined flow and so on. I do believe in story structure and character development, but I do also think a story needs room to breathe and thrive. The best advice was to get an editor. This is the one area I wouldn’t ever do myself personally!

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

What fuels me? Coffee. And the people that write me and say, “when is the next book coming out????”, and my kids. They think I am cool because I am an author. That in itself is enought to keep going.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plots seem to slowly come to me over time. Music is a huge piece. It really spurs my imagination. Fade to Silver was written to The Xx and Florence and the Machine mostly. Once I turn that music on, my brains just fires off. It’s cool. I have always been a daydreamer that way.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

The first book, I just started writing because I had no idea I was actually writing a book! The sequel had a very loose outline, but my characters basically had their own ideas and it ended up very far from the outline, but sooooo much better!

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Research: I did a ton. I shocked myself when I started writing and it became science fiction. So I had to see where I might go with technology. Also there are psychological factors with some of my characters that I wanted to make sure I understood.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I think there is probably a little bit of people I know in every character. But not necessarily based on one particular person. Experiences I have had over time with different people and relationships I have had definitely have impacted how my characters developed. People are complex so I really appreciate differences and I am super intrigued by the brain. I’dlove to explore this even more in future books to help shape my characters.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

If I could be any character in my book, I’d be Dannika. I know she’s wild and has some mental issues, but she’s strong and loyal and her heart is always in the right place. Also, she kicks a lot of butt!

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I would have loved to meet the late Phillip K. Dick. After seeing the movie The Adjustmaent Bureau, I read the short story and then got hooked. Started reading lots of his stuff. His style spoke to me as a storyteller and a writer and his work has definitely inspired me and this series. I would also love to meet T. Greenwood. She writes beautiful literary fiction about the human condition, and delves into the psychological issues behind common issues in everyday families that struggle with economic and social issues. It’s always heartfelt and has so much depth. Just love her.

Book Description

fade_to_silver_cover_final-199x300Adie is forced into new territory when her dream overlaps with a complete stranger in a different part of the country, while Dannika escapes from Research, not accepting the new assets in her brain that will change the way she works forever. Despite their separation, their lives merge once again to solve a major corporate conspiracy case, where one man has already lost his life, and Adie has set interference in motion on the next victim in line. But the corporation holds something that is so special, they aren’t the only ones that are willing to kill for it.

With two young men battling for her affection, Adie struggles to keep focus on the case. Once again, Adie and Dannika become the targets, as they become identified as obstacles for those who are after the corporation’s unique discovery. Until it becomes clear that only one person has the power to stop the chain reaction that has begun. And only one question will reveal that person. Who holds the key?

About the Author

Catherine Converse lives with her husband and four children in beautiful Montana.

If not writing, or researching, she would really like to be outside with her family, preferably snowboarding in winter, and playing with their horses in summer.

Grateful for such a blessed life and the ability to do the kind of work she loves, she just hopes to bring stories of all kinds to life, and enjoyment to those who read them.

Catherine also writes children’s books under the pen name Lizzy Anne Reid. Check out Wubba the Wizard and the Sally Series on Amazon Kindle.

You can find out more about Catherine on her website or receive updates on current books and new releases on Facebook.

You can see all of Catherine’s books on her Amazon Author page or go straight to The In Between or Fade to Silver to purchase them.

You can see video trailers for her books here.