Being lazy can be costly

08/30/2013 10:24 AM

08/30/2013 10:24 AM

Your kids’ financial education doesn’t end with the piggy bank, the savings account or the first credit card. It’s a lifelong learning process.

I was reminded of that after an experience this summer with online banking. Or more to the point, my failure to utilize online banking because I was l-a-z-y.

The result was a $25 hit to my wallet.

I incurred the fee for being late in paying my credit card bill while on vacation. Rather than logging on and being done with it, I put the check in the mail a few days before the bill was due.

In the interest of full disclosure, I love the online budgeting services, the colorful pie charts and the other bells and whistles that come with my banking service. But when it comes to bill paying, I still prefer the old fashioned way.

I have nobody to blame but myself for being out the $25 for not using the online tool.

The other part of this story: While I was sealing the envelope and adding the stamp, my 24-year-old daughter was in another room paying her bills online one click at a time.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with online banking for teens and young adults.

While the technology makes for quick and convenient banking, I felt it also enabled financial illiteracy among many young users, especially if they hadn’t first learned to balance a checkbook using pencil and paper or felt the embarrassing sting of bouncing a check.

It’s time to stop thinking like someone from the dinosaur age.

Don’t get me wrong, kids still need to master the basic blocking and tackling of managing their money. But now there is so much more financial technology to help.

It only makes sense for everyone — including parents — to stay current and master the tools. (You can still mail your bill payments, but follow instructions so the check is in hand more than a few days before the due date.)

Banking technology has moved to smartphones with apps that keep you aware of what’s going on in your account 24/7. And even more sophisticated mobile banking technology is on the way.

Still, money smarts count. I know of one case recently where a young adult was double billed on his credit card by a restaurant. But after checking his account on his smartphone a couple of days later, the mistake was caught and he was able to quickly head off a potentially bigger problem.

Consider that another light bulb moment on the need to always stay on your toes when it comes to watching your money. Being lazy won’t get the job done.

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