Do You Trust Justin Bieber to Teach Your Teens about Money?

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Justin Bieber by SeckIt’s true: Kids need to learn about how to manage their money, and teens need to learn how to properly use plastic. When was the last time you counted bills out to a cashier to pay for something? You really expect your teens to function well in a mostly-cashless society without practice with plastic?

So, while teaching teens to manage their money with the help of plastic is probably important, the next issue is whether or not a prepaid debit card is a good idea. And, on top of that, you need to ask yourself whether or not a prepaid debit card endorsed by a celebrity a good idea.

Justin Bieber Gets Into the Prepaid Debit Card Game

Many celebrities, from Suze Orman to Russell Simmons, have begun endorsing pre-paid debit cards. Even Magic Johnson shills for pre-paid debit. (The Kardashian version was laughed into oblivion, however.) Now teen heart-throb Justin Bieber is getting in on act. He’s endorsing the SpendSmart prepaid debit card, and doing it under the guise of presenting helpful money lessons for teens.

I’m conflicted about this because, on the one hand, some of the stuff the Biebs is saying in his promotions (“[I]f you have $100 or $100 million, if you spend more than you have, you’re going to go broke”) makes sense. And, let’s face it, your kids are more likely to listen to Justin Bieber tell them about money than they are to listen to you tell them about money.

Where things get sketchy, though, is when you start realizing that the idea of having your teens learn about savvy money choices by paying the fees associated with a prepaid debit just doesn’t make sense. One of the lessons teens learn from prepaid debit cards like the Justin-Bieber-endorsed SpendSmart prepaid debit card is that you should be paying to access your own money.

That’s not a lesson I’m too keen on teaching my son.

SpendSmart Comes with Fees

Of course, the card that Justin Bieber approves comes with fees. Most prepaid cards do. Here are some of the fees you can expect to pay with the SpendSmart prepaid debit card:

  • Monthly fee: $3.95
  • Loading fee: $2.95 from credit card, $0.75 from checking account. You can make a single automatic payment each month from a checking account fee-free.
  • ATM fee: $1.50 + ATM surcharges
  • ATM balance inquiry fee: $0.50
  • Inactivity fee: $3 after 30 days of inactivity

While you can avoid some of these fees with careful planning, you are, at minimum, going to be paying $47.40 per year because of monthly fees.

So, how about this: Why not open a joint checking account with your teen? In some states, and at some banks, it’s possible for a 14-year-old or a 16-year-old to get a prepaid debit card. You can still monitor and control your teen’s spending, but you don’t have to pay the fees. And if you want to avoid issues related to overdrawing the account, just be sure not to opt-in to standard overdraft protection. That way, your teen will be denied at the point-of-sale if there are insufficient funds in the account.

What do you think? Are there ways other than fee-laden prepaid debit cards to help your teen learn to manage money?


{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Do You Trust Justin Bieber to Teach Your Teens about Money?”

  1. Graham says:

    Wow, this is ridiculous!!!! Great deal for the Biebster merely selling his image, but this completely stands against everything you should be teaching children about financial literacy. Atrocious business model, and borderline predatory.

  2. I’m with you. A prepaid debit card with fees is no part of teaching teens wise spending.

  3. Yes, I have a problem with an actor or singer making money off the card and saying they are trying to help.

  4. admiral58 says:

    I would never listen to justin bieber on anything

  5. thunderthighs says:

    Justin Bieber should be crated up and shipped back to Canada. So no.

  6. Shirley says:

    There are many constructive and productive ways to teach a child about finances. A pre-paid debit card is not one of them.

  7. The only good I see out of this is sparking conversations such as the one we are having here. No I would never consider getting my child a pre-paid debit card branded with the latest pop celebrity of the day. However, I would use it as a great opportunity to teach my child about money. That way when they see one of their friends carrying the card, they can explain to them why it is such a terrible idea.

  8. Rob O. says:

    Wanna teach your child about how to manage money, make his/her money something that is manageable – tangible – cash.

    And perhaps as they’re approach the later teen years, a checkbook that you mandate must be balanced monthly.

    To be blunt, credit & debit cards are too abstract for many adults, so they’re certainly not something kids will understand well and use wisely.

    Attaching Beiber to money is an attempt to make it cool and fun. Managing your money is neither – it’s mundane and sometimes frustrating. But it’s a vital skill to impart to kids if you want to encourage healthy financial behaviors and attitudes

  9. Daniel says:

    Wow, this Justin Bieber card really cracks me up: $50/year just for the card?! That’s insane. It’s what an AmEx costs, and I won’t pay for an AmEx!

    Maybe my family bucks the trend, but we still spend mostly greenbacks. Practically anything that’s not a bill is done with cash, with the lone exceptions of purchases made at Target (we use the Target card for the 5% discount), and for gasoline (I use my debit card for that). I typically have anywhere from $200-300 in my wallet at any given time, but right now I’m running low, with only $80. And, no, I don’t worry about getting mugged: I don’t act like I have that cash on me, so nobody knows I have that cash on me.

    Now, having said all that, in my many years of budgeting, I have come to learn that what’s important is the budget itself, not the mechanism used for purchase. At this point in my life, it really does not affect me if a purchase is made via check, cash, credit, or debit, because the only time a purchase is ever made is after it has been budgeted, and it seems to me that this is the most important part of the lesson for kids.

    My wife & I literally write out a new budget every month. Most of the numbers don’t change much, but some do, and it’s important to have a new budget every month to reflect those monthly differences.

    Anyway, I’m still ROTFL about that $50 that JB wants each year from my kids, lol. Wow.

  10. jim says:

    Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and the Kardashians should be left stranded on a deserted island.

  11. Lei Lani says:

    When my son was a teenager, I put his allowance on a pre-paid Visa BUXX card. Since I already had a card issued by US Bank (My Harley Rewards card) I could fund his pre-paid card with no fee (and no interest, as long as I paid my balance in full each month). We were both able to log in and see where he was spending his allowance, and I could add fund (birthday, Christmas, etc.) at any time.

  12. Using anything that has fees associated with it is not something I want to teach my kids. This would be an example of the kind of things I teach my kids to not do simply because someone they like says it’s a good idea. Teaching them about what it cost to use an item is important and we’d be able to look, together, and find a card that doesn’t have those fees. It’s just as important for them to learn to compare cards as they get older.

  13. Dennis says:

    With respect to the moxie of Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, and the most successful promo family the Kardashians;
    these individuals hire the best promoters available. These promoters hook their “Name-Brand-Names” to anything that can turn a buck. Therefore, it most reasonable to expect these individual celebrities couldn’t describe these financial instruments if they were caught by the paparazzi.
    Any youngster needs to be acquainted with cash management by good ol’ fashion “bean counting”. A checking account, posting transactions in the check register, using cash to buy most everything gives one the exact monetary position at any time .

    It is an overrated fear that handling cash is a high risk deal.
    Young adults need to work with numbers and spending. Once the cash is spent, you go hungry or stop spending. Life lessons are too important to be entrusted to a “quick cashless transaction”.
    The lesson taught: If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it..Cash is king.

  14. Shirley says:

    I agree with Dennis. Once the money in hand is gone, you stop spending.

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