Digital subscriptions are a good tool for teaching teens how to manage money

Parents know that for every free online game or streaming service, there is one that either requires or encourages a monthly subscription.

When my kids were younger I’d tend to acquiesce to a plea for a subscription if the game was getting heavy use, put the subscription on my credit card, and promptly forget it existed. I’d end up with a Runescape or ToonTown subscription hitting my card months after my kids lost interest.

It has been a few years since I used a credit card, which helps a bit. But what solved the subscription trap for me was Current. Once the kids got Current accounts I made them responsible for their own digital subscriptions. Now they have to manage a budget, because once a month that subscription is going to get charged and they need to have money in their account or it will fail.

My teenage sons don't really play subscription-based games. They have moved on to Steam games. But they do have other subscriptions. My eldest has a YouTube Red subscription to listen to music while he plays video games or does his homework, and the youngest has a Spotify account. They get a weekly allowance and are paid for some (but not all) of their chores. They spend money every week, but they always seem have money in their account when their subscription payments are due.

Why? Because kids will budget their money around things that are important to them. If you give tweens and teens the tools to manage their money they tend to rise to the occasion.

So if you are considering gifting a subscription to a game or streaming service this holiday season, don’t put it on your card. Instead, transfer enough to cover the subscription into their Current account. You can do it up-front in a lump sum or schedule enough to cover every monthly payment. And then sit back and watch your kids learn how to manage a budget.

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