YNABing with Teens and Kids

Hey YNABers,

So I need some advice. I am trying to get my 13, 11, 8yr olds setup on YNAB as described by Jesse in a number of places, which I love! But I need help working through this practically


  1. If I setup individual budgets for my kids within my account, I know they will love this. They will love looking at it, and moving stuff around. Yet, practically, when they are at say Target with my wife and want to purchase something, my wife just does a split transaction, and pulls from a specific "Spending" category for that child. Easy.

    But when I imagine them with their own YNAB, without their own debit cards, this seems hard because my wife will still be purchasing and splitting transaction, yet it can not talk to or relate to the specific BUDGET FILE for that kid. Just seems confusing.  What do you all recommend?

    The easiest, in my mind is to still only use our budget but create a new Master Category for each kid with their categories, but man, makes for a big budget and lots of categories.

    I could also imagine whenever we weekly adjust their allowance amounts, or they get paid for mowing a yard, we simply deposit it all in our account and keep it in one category/kid (combine give-spend-save) and then we would have to add a corresponding "Inflow TBB" in their specific Budget File, that they can then "Give Every Dollar a Job." 
  2. What age is a good age for a teen to get a debit card connected to their own account? What should be demonstrated before they receive one?

I could actually imagine our 13yr/o being very responsible with a debit card, but too soon for our 11yr/o (both already have jobs, babysitting, and lawns).


I am very interested in your thoughts and experiences, thank you!

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  • You can set them up with their own budget on your account, they can access it. The only downside at this point in time they could also go into your budget. 

    Like 1
  • Hi canman !
    I want to make sure your post gets a bit more traction so I'm going to move it over to the Parenting Category under our Community Discussions section. Hopefully some others will chime in with how they've handled this in their own budgets :)

      • canman
      • canman
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Thank you! Janelle 

  • We use master categories for each kid, makes for a bigger budget sure but it makes for less mess in terms of accounts. Mine are much younger though.

    • QC
    • HaplessFinanceProfessional
    • Queenofcoin
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    My children have their own debits cards through a company called Spriggy (Australia).  Briefly, the cards are linked to my spriggy account.  I transfer money to them and they each have an app where they and I can independently view transactions.  My children are slightly older than yours however I think it's important to allow them autonomy over their money.  I like being able to view their history but I mostly let them do as they please because it's their money.  They can't withdraw cash so I don't have the worry of not seeing some or all their spending.  I like the option of being able to see something and step in if I need to but I haven't had to exercise it yet. 

    Whatever I transfer to them is budgeted in my YNAB as Kids Allowance so it's an easy set-up.

    I want to stress that however you decide to educate your children is your choice and I fully support you exercising that, this is simply my experience:

    Making mistakes is a big part of learning so I let them make mistakes.  They don't have to ask me what they can spend money on, it's their choice.  I have helped them set-up goals that they're saving toward.  Whether they spend their money on takeway or school canteen, they are beginning to realise that spending is a matter of priorities.  For my 16 year old this is realising that if he wants that new game for the PS4, he's going to have to say NO to the movies every now and then.  For my 15 year old it's realising that saving $1000 is hard on a limited income and it might take longer than anticipated but that's okay.

    I sure hope you find a solution that works for you all!

    Like 2
  • What about getting a prepaid card for each of them from your bank, and just transferring their allowance onto the card once a week or once a month or how ever often they receive it. Then you can just have one transaction for each of them in your budget, (e.g. Susie monthly allowance $20) but you don't have the mess of trying to keep up with all their spending on your budget. Then they can each go into their own individual budget and record transactions made on their prepaid card either themselves or with your help.

    This is what I did with my daughter before she had a debit card and it worked out fine. She recently got a debit card for her 15th birthday so she uses that now.

  • FamZoo is a prepaid debit card for use with children. Look in to it.

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