Give kids the ‘greenlight’ to spend money — wisely

In the old days, kids used piggy banks to save their allowance (some still do). But now, piggy has gone digital!

A revolutionary new tool teaches youngsters about money and helps parents raise financially smart children. It’s called Greenlight—and it’s a debit card for kids that parents manage through an app on their phones.

Now you can give your kids the “green light” to spend money—wisely—when they need it. It’s perfect for tweens, teens, and college students.

It took an uber-creative, tech-savvy team of parents to come up with a truly innovative digital concept that would benefit youngsters and parents alike and jumpstart smart, lifelong financial habits.

Tim Sheehan, dad, chief-executive officer, and co-founder of Greenlight, says it enables parents to choose the exact stores where their children can spend to make smarter buying decisions, and notes that since launching in 2017, Greenlight has helped families nationwide save more than $2 million.

“Greenlight is safe, smart, and flexible, which is why we think it’s been such a huge success,” he explains.

Whereas cash can be spent anywhere, Greenlight’s unique, patent-pending store-level controls give parents the option to choose the stores and exact amount where their kids can spend. You can set a specific amount that your child can spend at a store, or choose an amount that they can spend anywhere.

Sheehan says there were many times when one of his kids needed money, but he and his wife weren’t always carrying cash because they made their purchases with debit and credit cards.

“I thought, there has to be a better way than rushing out to an ATM at the last minute. Not to mention, cash can be lost, and we didn’t have any insight into where it was being spent,” he recalls. “My co-founders and I surveyed 2,000 parents nationwide and learned that most of them were facing the same problem. So, we created Greenlight to solve that problem in the market. Listening to our customers led to our mission: to help parents raise financially smart kids.”

And Sheehan says his family uses the card regularly.

“We use it to make the kids more independent after school. We give them $10 each week to buy their own snacks and budget lunch money, or to save, if that is what they choose. Now, they make choices and consider the prices of what they are buying before they buy,” he says.

Here’s what parents and kids can do using Greenlight:

Make it visual! With Greenlight, you can create savings goals that provide a visual progress bar for your child to track how he’s doing when saving for a specific item. This encourages him in the simplest way — if you want the bar to keep moving, keep saving!

Encourage saving! Create a way for your child to save and make it appealing for him to do so. Greenlight’s Educational Savings Account includes a parent-paid interest rate, which can be used to incent kids to save and to help them learn about compounding interest.

Set a budget! Teaching your kids early how to create a budget is extremely helpful later in life. They can use Greenlight to create spending categories (“greenlights”) that reflect the budget they have created with you.

Provide real-world experience! Challenge your kids in various real-life scenarios. For example, let your child determine if he or she has enough money to buy something when they need to add the price plus sales tax, or how much a meal at a restaurant is going to cost when you have to add up the items ordered, sales tax, and tip.

“Personal financial management is usually not taught in schools, but kids need to learn these skills if they are going to successfully manage their money later as adults,” Sheehan says. “That’s where Greenlight comes in. We believe that the earlier you begin to teach and prepare your kids, the more time they have to learn, ask questions, and make mistakes in a safe and supervised way.”

Register for a Greenlight account by visiting, or by searching for Greenlight in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Your first 30 days are free. After your free trial period, it’s just $4.99 per month for the entire family, including cards for up to five kids. There are no other fees unless your kids lose their card multiple times (they offer one free replacement card).

Tammy Scileppi is a Queens-based freelance writer and journalist, parent, and regular contributor to New York Parenting. Interviewing hundreds of New York City’s movers and shakers has been an amazing adventure for her. Scileppi’s work has appeared in a variety of media outlets. She has also written book cover copy for Simon and Schuster.

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