Learning how to manage money is a rite of passage for children as young as preschool in some families. But once they’re old enough to start spending and saving, Greenlight is an innovative way for parents to teach their kids about financial responsibility.
Greenlight is a debit card and mobile app that lets parents restrict and monitor spending and encourage savings. “Parents can incentivize their kids to save by setting a high interest rate,” says Tim Sheehan, CEO and co-founder of Greenlight. “Across all of our parents, the average is 18% APY, which is pretty good!”
Launched in January 2017 and based in Atlanta, Greenlight has helped families save over $20 million in the last three years, according to Sheehan. Teenagers with jobs can direct deposit their paychecks and add the card to Apply Pay. For younger children, parents can assign chores in the app that are tied to allowance payments. “When kids are really young, they don’t understand yet that money doesn’t grow on trees and that somebody has to earn it,” Sheehan says. “So parents [can work] with them to understand they’re doing chores for allowances.”
A subscription to Greenlight is $4.99 a month and includes debit cards for up to five kids (plus one free replacement card). If your child loses a debit card, parents can turn it off in the app. Greenlight has no minimum balance and no fees for transfers, transactions or overdrafts.
As parents teach children the value of money and savings, Sheehan hopes they’ll be better equipped to make financially smart decisions as adults about living within their means, creating and sticking to a budget and how to save for unexpected emergencies.
“What I wanted to do with Greenlight is for kids to actually deal with real money, [with] real consequences, but in a safe environment. If they spend $10, then the balance is down by $10, but if they save their money, they see it growing,” he says. “I want them to have a real-life experience and learn these financial concepts.”
Now if only adults could get an 18% APY on their savings accounts…
Tim Sheehan is the Atlanta-based co-founder and CEO of Greenlight Financial Technology. Prior to Greenlight, Sheehan was the director of Yahoo! Finance, and spent time at E*Trade and Envestnet. Follow him on Twitter.