Kids and money. It’s not enough that the first one has an endless appetite for the second one. But these days you also have to figure out to supply kids with money that they can spend in the places they are likely to buy: inside apps and games, online, and in stores. Cash will only solve one part of the problem — the in-store purchases. If you give them your credit card to cover the online, in-game, and app purchases you will soon find yourself hocking the jewels and cashing in the college fund to pay for their mistakes.

Is there a solution other than to get really upset and forbid the kids from learning how to manage all the forms of money that exist in the world they actually live in?

Yes! Give the kid a prepaid debit card instead of cash. That way you can turn this problem into an opportunity to teach them to budget, handle money they can’t fold, and understand the cost of things. There is nothing like going from flush to completely broke to teach a kid that if you spend $2 frequently it quickly ads up to $20….or $200.

I gave both of my kids a Paypal account the minute they turned 13. It comes with a MasterCard that lets them shop online and off. I can use an app or send a text to get money from me to them. This works no matter where they are. So if my son (who drives) calls me from the grocery store offering to pick up milk (so he can also pick up cookies), I can text him money and he can spend it right away. (Well worth the cost of cookies.) When my daughter has finished detailing the car (for which I have agreed to pay her), she sends me a text request and I answer yes to pay her. It’s pretty awesome.

They have both learned the value of a dollar this way — whether they can hold the dollar in their hand or not — by making mistakes and learning from them. And they learned this before they are old enough to get credit cards and make really big fiscal mistakes. I’m hoping the lesson translates.

The Visa Akimbo Card works the same way, though it also has some fancy image sharing and social features. Here is a video that (sort of) explains how the Akimbo Card works.

If you want to try it, I have a code that will get you $5 pre-loaded onto your new card. Just for to Akimbocard.com and enter the code “Geekmom” when you sign up. If you are using the card to sort out the money situation with your kids, just set up sub accounts for them.