Thursday, May 04, 2006


So I was at a meeting discussing the job training, financial education and job placement for a board that I am on for a partnering organization up off of North Sarah. There is a lot going on in the organization. It has been working, but it has so much more it can do.

They have been paying kids to work in the neighborhood which is wonderful. They want to develop even more. Having kids work in their own neighborhood is great. Having a big time regular job that you have to jump the bus for is very cool too.

We talked a lot about organizational stuff and then we brought up a part about how to pay the kids. It was brought up that instead of paying the kids cash, we can give them pre-paid credit cards. There was a program through Visa that allows kids to buy, for 10 bucks, pre-paid credit cards. After the ten bucks you can load the card with 15 dollar increments of "credit", but in reality this is a debit card not tied to an account. More like cash, but only transferable at a place that takes credit cards.

Oh. Uh. I don't know about that. Certainly not before teaching a kid how to save money in a bank. That does not sound good at all. You don't save credit cards. I guess you could, but these credit cards are not made to save money. Pre-paid credit cards are meant to be spent. I am sure they have expiration dates on them like gift certificates. It is not equal to cash or money in the bank. It is far more important to know how to use a savings account than to use a credit card.

It was brought up that the kids purchases can be tracked. This does not sound right at all. If the parents want to know how a kid spends their money, they can. They can ask them. The parents can find out how much money the kid makes. They can then ask them what they spend their money on. They can even ask for receipts from the kids if they want to.

A parent can forbid their kid from working too. But they can't when they hit 18. The kid can do whatever they want to do. The parent no longer has any legal control over the kid, nor do they hold any responsibility for the kid either. A lot happens to kids when they are 18.

I used to track all of my purchases for a year. I was a kid. I put everything I brought in on a paper spread sheet. It was from mowing lawns, shoveling walks, birthday money, taking bottles to the store, selling crunched aluminum cans at the scrapyard, selling papers, washing dishes, bussing tables. Whatever. And I documented on the spreadsheet what I spent my money on: Taco Bell, baseball cards, movies, handheld LCD vid games, renting movies, bike parts, baseball caps/jerseys(jr thug look), pet mice, baseball bats, shooting pool (RIP), fireworks and pocket knives. And I managed to save quite a bit of money in the process. It was rather fantastic coming out of high school having purchased my own car, having general fun(unable to talk to girls though) and money in the bank. It was great to move out at 18 and get my own cheap apartment(room rental of house) when I was 19. This is really not a big deal, and it should not be a big deal for young people to be able to work and buy their own car and get their own place, all while using checks to pay their bills.

Another at the meeting had brought up that they got their daughters a savings account, but they kept withdrawing money and he (father the custodian) would get dinged for overdrafts. I don't understand, for the savings account my father was custodian I was unable to overdraw. I think this may have been a checking account or a really crappy/ill named savings account.

I learned what it meant to get nailed for an overdraw. I learned about that real fast. First my mother would say something me, and then my father would say something.

I knew it was serious to get hit with an overdraft notice and fee, and that was obvious for I had to pay the 25 bucks. I didn't like losing out on 25 bucks.

If a kid has a real savings account, he/she can prove they can save and handle money without the risk of getting dinged. Then possibly they can prove they can handle a checking account with risk of getting dinged. Then after a while- maybe 18, maybe younger you can try them out with a real credit card. A real way to be able to borrow money, and not at the short term loan joint. Then after they are good for years and years teach them how to move their credit around and how to buy a house with a real loan after proving they can pay their credit cards.

These will be some real dangerous kids when they grow up. They will be working regularly. They will save money. They will be investing their money well by learning how to borrow money properly.

Now this won't work with all kids. A lot of kids will just never even deposit their money, instead just cashing their check and spending it on candy and chips. Some may not be able to balance a checkbook. Many won't be able to handle a bank card, much less a credit card. There are a lot of adults that can't do this. That is okay. That is reality, but this can change for some people. Some people can get a head start. And they may go on and open businesses. Go to school. Get a job and buy a house. Who knows? Good luck, work hard, we all put into the system and yay America!!

Or what are the Anarchist kids on the southside saying?

Work is terrorism.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What inspired you to be so organized as a child?

Your parents must have been very proud.

Most kids today are lazy, AIM-ing, PS2'd-out zombies.

Keeping a daily log of their income and expenses is the furthest thing from their attention-deficient minds.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Maire said...

SFS, I remember when the day I got my acceptance letter to Nerinx, my mom showed up at DuBourg where I was taking Advanced Algebra with a brand new Savings Book with a $200 deposit written in. I did odd jobs and made deposits. She'd go with me on Friday afternoons to withdraw. If I spent money during the week, I had another "register" to write everything in to get a balance that I had to have my dad check on Sunday nights. It definitely helped.

I think your pushing for kids to have tangible bank accounts makes a lot of sense--even when I had a checking account in HS, I still od'd and my dad was gracious but I still would get in trouble--not the same as an adult.

When I teach Excel Basic at the Library, I'm teaching so many of these same skills that these adults did not receive as adolescents, eg budeting, planning, making appropriate financial decisions. Good for you for starting with these kids early!!

8:01 AM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I wish I was as organized now. I sort of am, but I was so very detailed then. I was curious what I spent my money on.

The kids today really are not that much different than what- the 80s? That was not really long ago. Most of my peers drank soda, watched cartoons, bought Garbage Pail Kids cards, played Atari and Nintendo. They would run around crazy and spend their money. I don't recall a wave of financial responsibility or work ethic having a firm grip upon the kids in my school. Most kids didn't work, and if they did get their hands on money they pissed it away at Rexall. There were some that worked too.

I have kids that work for me. They want to work. If they don't, I fire them. And I have fired more kids than adults. This is when a kid learns what it means to have a job. This is different than working. Working is part of a job. A job also means you have to work with others and show up when scheduled. It is important that kids learn early that they get fired for a no show, or not working or not working with fellow employees. Most kids back in the day didn't learn this early until they started working, which for most kids was closer to 18 and sadly, for many not until after they graduated college. I have seen kids in their early 20s fill out job aps at my place, and all they have on their applications is that they went to school and did some small time work(baby sitting or helping around the house)- no regular jobs(restaurant). Or often they have had a lot of jobs. The kind where they have only worked a month or so at each place. Ouch.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Joe said...


you really need to get this organization, whoever it is, connected with somebody like Prof. Michael Sherraden at WashU's GWB School of Social Work; or Sheri Flanigan-Vasquez at Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation ...
anybody who can explain to them the value of what are called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

Basically, they're matched savings accounts. You save money, and a donor adds to it. And it's in a bank collecting a little interest.

St. Louis is something of a national model for such programs. There's no reason any non-profit in this city should be paying people in pre-paid debit cards! Are they trying to get around parental permission or something?

10:48 PM  

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