While that is wonderful news for the adults who have already had the experience of having to balance a checkbook and, hopefully, are conscious of where they spend money, and even remember to figure in those checks written long ago that someone did not cash, the younger generation is depending on the internet to tell them how much money they spent, without any concern about where, when, and how they are spending it. When you have to physically write down that you spent a whooping $5.99 at a coffee place for a gourmet drink with extra whipped cream five times a week, it might be a wake-up call for them to figure out that they just spent $29.95 a week. That's $119.80 a month! Trust me, a lot of the teens really do spend that kind of money on coffee, yet they ask you for a few bucks for a concert ticket they have been dying to see because they are broke.
If this project is done right, you could alter their future spending habits. If they have to face the truth everyday about who is getting their hard earned money and decide if what they are buying is worth the amount of money they are spending on it, at least they are making that choice with the proper information. They might actually consider what they could have bought or saved with that extra money.
So, TEACH them how to write and keep a bank balance. Do not let them check their balance online until they have written it down, and only to check for ones that cleared. At the end of every week, have them look over the things that they bought that may have not been worth what they spent. If they cannot have a checking account for what ever reason or you give them allowance in cash because they are too young, then get a play checking account and you become the banker. They withdraw money from you, but they have to write it down and balance the account. Most kids have no idea how to even write a check!
Consider this: Have you stood in line for morning coffee behind every teen holding up their debit card for a buck or two? (OK I know, there is no such thing as a buck or two coffee at the big chains, but you know what I am talking about). They deal only in immediate gratification. While they might not think it is a big deal, you certainly will if this becomes a life-long pattern. Kids become very good at what they practice. Some of the teens are practicing impulsive spending very well. They will roll their eyes at you and tell you that they can see perfectly fine how much they spend on coffee and "Hey, it's my money", but two points of that argument are incorrect. First, most kids learn by seeing, writing, and then doing. Missing the physical writing skips a step in the learning process. Second, is it really their money? Or are they spending the money that you will have to make up for on other things? If they are not saving for a car, or college, or prom... Guess what? They come to you for the difference.
*Side note- This is not only a good activity for kids and teens. Sometimes adults need a back to basics as well. If you are spending more money than you want and are doing the check online thing like the kids, you too are missing the important write-it-down step and skipping out on the consequences of your purchases.