One of the ripple effects of launching Kite, which enables parents to set up a debit card for their child, is an increased number of conversations about money within families. “Money shouldn’t be a taboo,” says full-time dad John Hibbs. “By talking about money and being open about it, we can give our kids a wider understanding and encourage better habits.”

Here, we speak to three parents about why they chose Kite, how they use it to manage pocket money and some of the financial lessons they aim to pass on to their kids.       

Paperless, digital setup

“Setting up Starling Kite for my seven-year-old daughter was really straightforward,” says John, 42. “Historically, with high street banks, applying for a child’s bank account has been such a cumbersome process but as I’ve come to expect from Starling, the application for Kite is very well designed.”

John Hibbs and his sister Viki, founders of the Hibbs Lupus Trust
John Hibbs and his sister Viki, founders of the Hibbs Lupus Trust

Existing Starling customers can set up Kite in minutes, without leaving home. All you need is the Starling app and an internet connection. Simply go to the Spaces section of the app, where you can set money aside as savings, and select ‘New Space’ followed by ‘Child Card Space’. 

The debit card should arrive within three to five working days and when the adult has activated it and topped up the Space, the child can start using it straight away. Kite costs £2 per month per card, and the card is in the child’s name, not the parent’s.

Contactless payments for kids

John says: “She first used her card after her school asked for donations to local food banks as part of a harvest project. She wanted to buy £10 worth of items from the supermarket and added things up as she went round, putting things in her basket to donate to the food bank.” 

Actively supporting charities is a big part of the Hibbs’ day-to-day life. John runs the ‘Hibbs Lupus Trust’ with his sister, to support those with Lupus, a chronic and currently incurable illness of the immune system.

“When we came to the checkout, she paid using contactless on her Starling Kite card and I explained to her why, with the coronavirus, it was good to use contactless. I then got the notification through on my phone, which I showed her.”

Every time your child spends money, the adult who set Kite up receives a notification. If Kite is connected to your Starling joint account, both account owners receive notifications, which can prompt conversations about money. “At every step, we try to involve and guide her so she can learn about money. The earlier you start, the better.”

Pocket money on auto-pilot

Gareth Thomas, a single foster parent, chose Kite so that he could organise pocket money through one seamless app. “One of my big challenges was finding a product that would work for all three of my kids - some products were for 11+, others would work for a 13-year-old but not a seven-year-old, some were for much younger kids. I didn’t want to have multiple accounts in multiple places.”

Kite is a great solution for Gareth, 35, and his kids. “I got my head around Kite very quickly - it just works,” he says. “Until Starling Kite, pocket money has been tricky to manage. I tend not to use cash. For Birthday and Christmas money they received, I’d give each a ziplock bag and put it somewhere safe. But the problem with that, is that it was out of reach, so hard to visualise.”

With Kite, it’s easy to see your balance and manage pocket money. “Everything with my finances is relatively automated, including Kite. Once a week, half their age (in money) is transferred into each Space. Pocket money shouldn’t be an admin hassle, it should be about kids learning about money.”

Gareth Thomas, foster carer and founder of marketing agency Clarified
Gareth Thomas, foster carer and founder of marketing agency Clarified

To put pocket money on auto-pilot, open the Kite Space and tap ‘Add money’. Then type in an amount and select the date and frequency, for example every week or every month.

Building up savings from Christmas and birthdays 

Kate Mercer, mum of two, likes that Kite acts as a savings account and also comes with a debit card. “They loved the cards when they arrived - they held them for hours! I could see by their body language that they felt grown up and responsible,” she says. 

“I was quite shocked when we were looking for a bank account for my then nine-year-old. We could only find one and even then it was a savings account without a card. Kite is hugely appealing for that reason. It gives you a route into talking about money and also makes it experiential.”

Both of her children are big on saving and are keen to add Christmas and birthday money into their Kite Spaces so they can see their money build up. 

Teaching children the value of money

For all three parents, Kite plays a useful role in helping their children to learn the value of money.

“We’re trying to raise them to respect money - having a bank account for children is the start of that,” says Kate, 42. “We want to teach the kids about what it feels like to spend money on things that you really want and what it feels like to save it. Kite gives the immediacy of being able to see where it’s gone and the nice warm fuzzy feelings you get when you save it up!” 

Education and self-growth is fundamental for Kate, who trains people in human rights advocacy, ensuring people understand and are supported to speak up about their rights.

Communicating the value of money is also important to Gareth, who runs the marketing agency Clarified and became a foster parent four years ago. “I intentionally put their pocket money in on a Monday, so that if they want to spend it at the weekend they need to wait. Similarly, if they want something that will take them a few weeks to save for, they need to resist spending each week.”

For John, Kite acts as a conversation starter for talking about money. He says: “The most important lessons that we are taking from using Kite are around learning the value of money and talking about money.”

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