Friday, 18 December 2015

Osper - Financial Independence for Children

When Osper offered my son, L, the chance to buy his own Christmas presents, he was thrilled. It's lovely when your children are just as overjoyed to buy gifts for others as they are for themselves! It also had the potential to be really fun for him, because he does love to be independent. He is very good at maths, and enjoys working out what things cost and whether something is a good deal or not. I think it's important that children are educated about money.

It's about more than just adding up. It's about working out if it's better to buy more of something because it works out less per item, or less, because you won't use it all. It's about knowing the difference between a genuinely great deal and one that isn't as good as it first sounds. The skills we teach our children will serve them well in the future, when it matters. Even if they go on to get great jobs and money isn't a huge issue for them, they have to get through university first! So many students leave university saddled with debt, because it was the first time they ever really had to handle money. With debit cards, it is so easy to overspend, because you don't actually see physical money levaing your hands. Before you know where you are, you can have a whole lot of great stuff and an empty bank account.

Until now, it's been impossible to teach L the skill of spending money wisely with any kind of accuracy, because children don't have access to debit cards, which is where a lot of the difficulties can begin. He's certainly not borrowing mine! All that has changed though, with the Osper debit card for children. The card is designed for children from the age of 8 to 18 and works in exactly the same way as a standard debit card, except it's topped up by the parent, so it's impossible to overdraw it, or incur bank charges. It can be used in shops or online, but you can see where the money is being spent and even block inappropriate merchants. It appeals to children's innate need to be independent and provides a fun way for them to emulate adults, but in a safe, controlled way.

Easy to use dashboard

L was very keen to get started with his new card, so I downloaded the app to my phone, so that I could see how easy it was to use. You can make a one off payment using your debit card, or set up a monthly allowance from your bank. It is very easy to use and I had it all set up in minutes. The only issue I have with it, is that it only allows £10 increments. It would be nice if there were other amounts available, so that I could be a bit more select about how much I give him at once. I charged the card with £10 and we took it with us to At-Bristol, where he spent a vast amount of time browsing in the gift shop. A VAST amount of time. I wondered if, perhaps, having more control over his money was making him more select about spending it! This can't be a bad thing, I thought. A bit tedious waiting for him, sure, but better than blowing the lot in five minutes! So, he was already learning something.

L's own views on his Osper card!

The Osper people added some money for him, so he could try it out online and buy his Christmas presents. He took it very, very seriously, making a list of family members, then dividing the money between them, so he knew exactly how much he could spend on each. He chose everything he wanted, then his sister helped him put the card details in. At one point he added it up wrong, and I got an email to say he had tried to spend more than was on the card, which was very reassuring. There are a lot of parent-friendly features available with the app. I particularly like the monthly allowance feature, as I struggle to remember to have change in the house and he doesn't always remember to bring his money with him when we go anywhere! Previously, I would just pay for everything on my debit card, but then I would have to remember to get the money back from him when we got home, which was too complicated all round! This system is much more straightforward, as you can just set it up and forget about it and the money will carry on building up, if he doesn't use it. The card is free for three months, giving you plenty of time to discover whether it could work for your family, and then it's £12 a year after that. So that's *counts on fingers* 25p a week, to take the hassle out of pocket money. Bargain! If you do decide to try Osper with your children, you can sign up using this link, and you and L will both get £5 credit! 

Produced in Association with Osper. All opinions are our own, especially L's. He has a lot of opinions, but they are all his own! 


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