Debit cards for kids?

Staff Writer
Wayne Post
John Ninfo

Scott from Churchville Chili High School recently forwarded on to me, as a disciple of "cash is the king," some videos and thoughts about the Greenlight Debit Card for Kids. I promised that we would look at this subject in this column.

We have talked about cards for kids in the past, as well as helpful financial apps for everyone. The bottom line, for me, is that these are TOOLS. They can be useful and helpful tools, but to me, only if you know the basics of sound personal finances, have some financial goals, are otherwise truly motivated to do things like budget, save, spend responsibly, and invest, in order to meet those financial goals. That’s what I always say in my CARE financial literacy presentations.

That being said, the Greenlight Debit Card for Kids, which costs $4.99 per month for up to five children, can be one of those useful tools to help your children better manage money, IF YOU HAVE TAUGHT THEM THE BASICS FIRST, OR ARE REALLY COMMITTED TO USNG THAT TOOL IN ORDER TO TEACH AND REINFORCE THE BASICS OF GOOD MONEY MANAGEMENT. If you are going to use it JUST to make your life easier ...

The card is basically a prepaid debit card, and you can set spending limits, limits on where and the type of establishments (gas stations, restaurants, etc.) it can be used at, and even limited ATM cash withdraws. You can add money to the account (like when your child completes a designated chore), approve or disapprove of designated transactions, and even make it possible for them to make charitable donations.

If you teach your children about money, good money habits, and the basics of managing and getting the most out of every dollar of hard-earned money, and you are committed to remaining actively engaged in reinforcing that, by all means look into what can be a valuable tool, and tailor one to the goals you want to achieve for the financial education of your children.

On a different subject, but one we often discuss, with the Democratic Presidential ticket finally set, there are ever continuing media discussions on centrist versus liberal versus progressive policies. One subject that continues to come up is the position of a candidate on the forgiveness of student loan debt, presumably federal student loan debt, although no one ever seems to make that distinction. Whatever anyone’s position may be on the American taxpayers picking up that tab, including taxpayers who have paid off the student loan debt that they incurred, directly or indirectly, or if they have sacrificed and paid for their own or someone else’s education, it always makes me wonder — what message would that give to the recipients, other than those already in the several forgiveness programs available, about our society, or about our life expectations for them? They don’t have to volunteer part-time for a not-for-profit, mentor children in some way, or do anything to make the taxpayers' society better — just go on with life and have the loans, that no one made them take out, forgiven?

Two other subjects that come up are candidates' and parties' positions on Medicare for all and Social Security. When that happens, on top of what I hope will be a new federal government relief package soon, I can’t help but think about that national debt. According to, the current published national debt exceeds $26.5 trillion, but the truth is, when you add in unfunded amount for Medicare and Social Security, it is over $133.6 trillion. I don’t know the real truth of it, but you can check out the analysis on the website. It is right, each taxpayer’s share is about $864,000.

On another subject that we have had our eye on, as I write this column, the Postmaster General has agreed to testify before a House Committee next week, including about delivery delays and preparedness for more mail-in voting during the presidential election. I know that I have personally definitely experienced a few package delivery delays. I know that because in tracking my packages online, it has specifically said “delayed.” What I have not experienced, however, is any delay in my bills being delivered. Much of it is attributed to increased online shopping. I did panic a little this week when it was reported that there would be a temporary increase in postage, even though I didn’t think that I would not be able to use my Forever Stamps any longer without paying more. It turns out the increases that are going into effect from Oct. 18 to Dec. 27 are just for commercial domestic competitive parcels.

On an additional subject, I have expressed in this column that I have seen and learned many new things from my daily rides in the neighborhoods during this pandemic, always trying hard not to be judgmental. Here is a sighting that left me shaking my head. I saw a not youthful gentleman, walking briskly, wearing athletic clothes, with earbuds in his ears, smoking a lit cigar. I was not speechless — my reaction was, WHAAAAAAT! On a final subject, that I want to keep an eye on going forward is the recent reporting on automobile sales. We know that Recreational Vehicle sales and rentals have increased dramatically because of the pandemic. We also know that new car sales and inventory are down, including in the Rochester region, because many manufacturing plants have been closed. However, according to, there apparently is an increase in automobile sales among big city dwellers, like those in New York City, who didn’t previously own a vehicle, but, perhaps understandably, don’t want to take planes, trains, buses or subways these days. Many of the sales are of used cars, which are apparently very hard to come by.

Stay safe as we reopen more.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at or at