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PocketCard Helps Parents Control Their Kids' Spending

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RALEIGH — If you are a parent, there are times when you feel like you are "The Bank of Mom and Dad." If you give your child $30 for the weekend, it is gone by Saturday afternoon, and there is not much to show for it.

However, a company calledPocketCard.comcould be poised to change all of that with a simple but striking Internet-age idea.

"I really needed a debit card for him so he wouldn't be able to spend more than what was necessary," said parent Bianca Vinokovur.

Vinokovur, an attorney and stepmother, is the holder of her family's purse strings.

Antuan Vinokovur, 18, is a student and former spendthrift. Bianca gave Antuan anAmerican Express Cardfor incidentals and emergencies only to wish he would just leave home without it.

"One month, we finally got a bill for about $1,700, and it was at that point when I said, 'That's it. We can't have that anymore,' His credit card bills come out higher than mine," said Bianca.

Now, Antuan carries the PocketCard, aVISAdebit card tied to an online bank account. Antuan can only spend what his parents have deposited in his virtual account, but they can add money in an instant if he gets in a jam.

"It is 24-7 availability. You initiate an electronic check through a touch-tone phone or Web browser whenever you want to add value to the card and leave your money in your own bank account until then," said William Scheurer of PocketCard.com.

There is also built-in accountability. Every purchase Antuan makes triggers an e-mail to his stepmother.

"They'll always know what I'm buying. They always know how much money I have to spend and can keep track of it," said Antuan.

Some kids might object to so much oversight, but Antuan says he does not. PocketCard leaves it up to parents to decide whether they want to see spending records.

You can apply for a PocketCard for any kid big enough to hand it over the counter. Bosses can also issue the cards to employees to control their spending.

There are some fees involved, but PocketCard is betting that parents will be willing to pay a little and use it as a teaching tool.

"I can just about guarantee that if you give one of these to a 14-year-old child of yours, you will end up having some very interesting discussions about where they go and what they do with their money," said Bianca.

You will know you have arrived in the Year 2000 when you hear your child say "Mom and Dad, could you please upload my allowance?"

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Jim Payne, Reporter
John Clark, Web Editor

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