Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Confess Your Money Mess Ups To Your Kids

Fool money.

Do you ever share your money mess up stories with your kids?

I think it’s helpful to do so. It reminds the kids we’re all human. Your candor demonstrates it’s safe for the kids to confide in you about their own inevitable money stumbles. The benefit? You might just nip a problem at the bud before it snowballs into a full-fledged financial disaster.

So here’s a money mess up I just shared with my kids. I’ve been renting a small storage unit for a pile of old stuff that would have easily fit in my garage. Frankly, I should have just given most of it away long ago. Well, that little storage unit of random stuff has been costing me a hefty $97 per month lately. Ouch.

I kept telling myself I needed get rid of it. Especially every time I saw that $97 activity alert come in from my credit card account.

Month after month after month.

Well, I finally pulled the plug on the unit. My daughter helped me move the stuff home just recently.

Golf clap.

Soooo, just how long had this senseless spending been going on? I asked the guy behind the desk to look up the start date for my storage unit.

It was...

Wait for it...


I’ve been paying rent every month needlessly for 13 years. Shame! Shame!

I’ll let everybody do the rough math. Needless to say, it’s real money — even if the rent was initially quite a bit lower.

Anyway, I confessed it all to my kids. They had a good laugh at this dumb old fool’s expense. A colossal, senseless waste of money by no less than the founder of a family FinLit company. “Mr. FamZoo,” my wife chided. Derp.

But at least my kids got a good chuckle and a cautionary tale out of my financial folly.

Maybe the memory of my money mess up will save them some money someday.

P.S. Feel free to regale us with your own money mess up story in the comments, if you feel so inclined. But I certainly understand if you’d prefer to keep it in the family. 😬

Want to turn these tips into action? Check out FamZoo.com.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Train Kids To Connect The Address Verification Dots

Address verification dots.

Your daughter is off at college.

Your son is at his stepfather’s house for the weekend.

Your family moved recently.

Your youngster hasn’t learned your street address or zip code.

You may soon be hearing:

“Dad, my card doesn’t work!”


The address verification system used by VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

Kids need to know that almost every debit or credit card has an associated address on file. It’s typically the home address of the legal cardholder collected at the time of issuance.

Kids need to know that most online sites will request a billing address during checkout for a purchase. Alternatively, the site may use a billing address stored in a billing profile from an earlier transaction.

To complete the purchase successfully, the billing address supplied on the site must match the address associated with the card. If the two don’t match, the purchase will fail.

That’s address verification.

The point is to reduce fraud. Address verification thwarts those thieves who get a hold of sensitive card info, but can’t cough up the correct address of the cardholder.

So, if your kid shops online and supplies a temporary college address, another parent’s home address, an old home address, or simply doesn’t know her address, she’ll be thwarted just like the thief.

I know this happens frequently. At 21.7% in the last 30 days, address verification failure is the second most common decline reason for kids on our family finance site — right behind insufficient funds (62.4%).

Teach your child:

  1. What the cardholder address is, and how to update it.
  2. What a billing address is, and how to update it on websites that store it.
  3. How to match the two during checkout to prevent address verification declines.

In other words, teach your kids where the address verification dots are, and how to connect them.

Want to turn these tips into action? Check out FamZoo.com.