Barbie Teaches Credit Cards 101: "You Never Run Out Of Money!"

Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique, the correctly named Barbie toy, features a built-in credit card swiper and a life-size credit card for young children to use when buying outfits for their dolls. According to the Amazon website, “Once the balance hits zero, it will reset so you can continue to shop.”

We can’t find a copy of the commercial online (can anyone send in a link?), but according to posts all around the web, it features a little girl crying out, “And you never run out of money!”

[Update: thanks to readers Wesa and Pda_tech_guy, here’s a low-quality YouTube clip of the commercial.]

We think Mattel should introduce the “Dang, I Grew Up” Barbie playset, where Barbie spends her entire paycheck on Rent-a-Center furniture while trying to make the minimum payments on her dozen or so 30% interest rate cards. But then again, since this is Barbie, once her credit score hit 300 or so the playset would probably just bump it back up to 800. Responsibility is so for nerds and foster children.

(Thanks to David!)

“Barbie Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique Playset” [Amazon]

Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    you know ken would end up getting stuck with the bill anyhow.

  2. erockO says:

    this will be followed up by “Identity-theft Barbie”

  3. rmz says:

    @INconsumer: Then Barbie can play around with other dolls, divorce Ken, and then collect child support! FREE MONEY!

  4. ShadeWalker says:

    mattel is evil!

  5. Womblebug says:

    This ad is running constantly on NickJr – during the -preschooler- shows. Every time I see it I want to vomit. Not only do you never run out of money, but the “outfits” you’re buying apparently cost between $150 and $200 each.

    It’s become a major factor in my current argument with myself to cancel cable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    i don’t get it. on a serious note, toys don’t teach children, parents do. are people really in an uproar over this? whats wrong, are parents afraid they might have to actually explain to their child how a credit card works later on in life? curse you barbie for not raising our kids to know better than that! lol.

  7. liquisoft says:

    I applaud Mattel for trying to be modern and up-to-date with their toys, but I think the “never run out of money” concept is misinforming. It’s true that parents are in charge of teaching their children how to live, spend, etc, but that doesn’t negate the influence of a spending-related toy.

    When I was young, we had money toys as well. We had cash registers that used plastic coins worth 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents. We also had laminated paper money that went with it. We would pretend we were running a shop and friends would buy items from us (usually plastic apples or plastic chicken, for some reason). Our friends would pay us the amount the apple was worth, and they had a limit to the amount of chicken they could buy simply because they only had so much cash. Once the cash was gone, they couldn’t buy anything more.

    This seems like a simple-enough rule to adults, but to children who have their parents buy everything for them, the concept of “never-ending spending” might be very real and plausible. The credit card Mattel is pushing supports that unrealistic idea, and I think it ought to be re-examined by the company.

    If they can make dolls that wet themselves, they can make a credit card that has a set spending limit that requires the child to “work off” the charges somehow.

  8. Anonymous says:

    yeah when i was a kid my dolls would run out of money and i’d have imaginary collectors calling during dinner. kids today have it sooooo easy.

  9. morganlh85 says:

    Train ‘em up young, right? Good grief.

  10. morganlh85 says:

    @INconsumer: The point is that kids’ PARENTS don’t know how credit card work either; they probably bought the damn toy with a credit card and don’t realize it will take them 72 years to pay it off. Companies like this are purposely trying to normalize the idea of using credit as young as possible to further their own agendas.

  11. SaveMeJeebus says:

    I’m glad I have a boy. Lego-men don’t warp minds like the qunitessential aspiration figure Barbie.

  12. gruffydd says:

    If I was a parent, I’d get this for my kid, and then mail a bill to the house addressed to the kid, and tell her she needs to do chores to earn money to pay the bill.

    Who know…maybe even charge interest if they can’t pay the entire balance!

  13. wring says:

    I saw that ad. It’s worse than the Dora cash register preparing my child for a career in cashiering :P

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen this commercial. It is on the Nick Jr channel. Of course, my 4yro yells out “I want that!” Too bad. I think it’s highly irresponsible for Mattel to market this way. Toys should be educational, and this type of “education” is trying to raise a generation of deeply debted crop of bankruptcies. Shame on Mattel. Of course you don’t run out of money, because “Math is hard”.

    First saw this commercial as it followed a Polly Pocket “Race to the Mall” car toy, in what appears to be a girly version of a Hot Wheels game.

    Is the only future Mattel sees in girls is that of a mindless shop-o-holic?

  15. @gruffydd: Haaa, this is a brilliant idea. Like a reverse allowance!

  16. Anonymous says:

    @wring: it could be worse. it could be a trampy bratz doll training your child in a completely different field.

  17. topgun says:

    Consider then the Ho-Bag Barbie that comes with her own Sugar-Daddy and uses his credit cards.

  18. Sudonum says:

    When my step son was around ten years old he asked me how credit cards “worked”. I’ll never the look on his face when I told him about “interest” if you didn’t pay the entire bill when it came due.

  19. Sudonum says:

    opps.. typing and reading something else, forgot to put the word “forget” in that last sentence

  20. Starfury says:

    I have seen this ad; my kids were watching Nick and it came on. After being horrified by this I explained to them (mostly my 9 yr old daughter) that in real life thing’s don’t work this way. I’m pretty sure she understood this and commented on the $150/$200 price on the “outfits” was a lot of money.

    I have hopes that she’ll be smart enough to manage her money and not live like the TV commercials.

  21. Anonymous says:

    well here’s the deal. if you don’t buy it for your child, and instead buy your child something “educational”, it seems this becomes a non issue. next caller please.

  22. Beerad says:

    Yeah, not a big deal. I recall playing with some toy cash register/bank thing at my friends house. You never ran out of money there either, because you’d just open up the till and recollect the plastic tokens. And yet, I didn’t turn into a bank robber.

    Sure, it CAN be a problem, if the parent’s going to pat little Mindy on the head and say “That’s right, kiddo, unlimited money! Just like Mommy and Daddy’s credit cards!” But hey, maybe there’s a financial lesson here – take her credit card away when the balance hits zero, or deduct the “interest charges” from her allowance. Yeah, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have kids.

  23. Saboth says:

    @INconsumer:
    Personally I’d be in much more of an uproar over this than my kids playing Grand Theft or some similar “violent” game. Why?

    1. How many kids that play violent video games go on to actually commit violent crimes? Like .0001%?
    2. How many kids that play with Barbie’s credit card and Bratz go on to be in major credit card debt? 75%?…lol…

  24. horned_frog says:

    sheesh, atleast on other kids games, you have to do a variety of tasks to earn currency/gold (killing monsters, etc…)

  25. morganlh85 says:

    plus I hope none of my kids ever think an outfit is “supposed” to cost $200 frickin dollars.

  26. SadSam says:

    For a really well informed caring parent, the barbie credit card would provide an opportunity to teach a child the pros and cons of credit. However, most really well informed caring parents don’t buy their kids barbie dolls.

  27. Ryuuie says:

    @Womblebug: This commercial is on practically ANY cartoon block. Kids WB!, 4Kids TV, Qubo (on NBC), ABC Kids…whatever CBS has…I’ve seen it on all of those networks.

    I forgot Ken even existed…didn’t Mattel like…quietly kill him off?

  28. WraithSama says:

    This somehow reminds me of the day several years back when I heard that Madonna gave her child a credit card with a $10,000 limit to “teach him financial responsibility”. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard. I can’t remember how old the kid was at the time, but I think it was 10… maybe less.

  29. vanilla-fro says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: you’re not playing with them the right way.

    Seriously though, barbie was never a really good role model to begin with. She dresses kind of like a whore, she’s super thin with a nice bust, and where the hell was ken sleeping.

  30. Namrepus says:

    You know… I was gonna send this to ben weeks ago…

    Glad to know someone else noticed how fucking stupid this commercial was

  31. andrewsmash says:

    Eh..credit ratings are as fictional as Barbie. I can’t wait for these kids to get in the real world and cause the credit meltdown that has been brewing for oh so long.

  32. LucyInTheSky says:

    I want to puke after reading this. no subliminal messages hmm?

  33. alk509 says:

    @gruffydd: Man, what a great idea! I’m embarassed to admit I’d find it hugely entertaining to teach my kids these kinds of lessons…

    @WraithSama: Yeah, I remember that! I think the girl was like 7 or 8, really young. Poor child…

  34. lo_fro says:

    maybe Barbie should work in the boutique in order to teach children where all your money goes when you work retail?

    or how about the credit card set comes with a fast-food window that Barbie has to work in whenever her balance reaches zero.

  35. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    Something to point out is that the kids, unless they’re supremely young, should probably be able to realize for themselves that this is total bull, or at least it should prompt them to ask about it. People make it look like children are so impressionable that the way their parents raised them is totally ignored when presented with a toy that defies reality. When you were a kid, did you really just assume that everything you saw or heard was true?

    Maybe I was just a freak as a kid, but I never liked playing with Barbies as a child because she didn’t seem realistic compared to the people I met everyday.

    Then again, when I was a kid if you threw a tantrum in the store you got your ass whooped, and five minutes of standing in line at Wal-Mart these days shows me that this is apparently not a common practice.

  36. mandarin says:

    Thats some good old American sleazy marketing you got there…

  37. RandomHookup says:

    I’ve always been more of a GI Joe shopper myself.

  38. wesa says:

    Here’s the commercial: [www.youtube.com]

    It’s perfect for setting the expectations of our future consumers.

  39. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Starfury:

    They should just price everything in “blowjobs.” I think that would make it a lot more realistic.

  40. Youthier says:

    You know what irritates me more? The new Monopoly that has debit cards so you don’t have to count money. It’s that difficult to count the damn paper money.

  41. jinjin1080 says:

    Ugh, are we really this bad of whiners? Seriously, it’s just a toy. If you don’t want your kids to learn poor spending habits, then TEACH THEM! It’s called PARENTING.

  42. RvLeshrac says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    Especially if the girls are catholic. [burn]

    And boys. [double-burn]

  43. if I were a parent, this is the kind of toy that would guarantee books for the next few christmases and birthdays.

  44. stpauliegirl says:

    @HeyHermano: I had no idea such an atrocity existed. Not only does it deprive kids of math skills, but it also robs them of the opportunity to nip bills from the till as they play the banker. Uh, not that I did that as a kid or anything.

  45. Jesse in Japan says:

    @HeyHermano: Yeah, but you only get about 14,000 dollars in Monopoly money and it’s possible to run out in a long game.

  46. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @TechnoDestructo:
    @RvLeshrac:
    Aw man, y’all are filling up the flagged comments inbox with that Catholic BJ Barbie stuff…

  47. justarep says:

    And this is the sort of thing that seriously makes me consider raising my kids in a shack in the woods, should I ever have offspring.

  48. Great… teach our kids to just spend spend spend. Way to teach them financial responsibility…

  49. ascara says:

    I really think this is just opening up a new line idea for Mattel. You can do Repoman Ken dressed as a tow truck driver. He can come tow the Barbie Mobile when her clothes shopping causes her to fall behind on her bills. Real Estate Agent Skipper can teach your kids about foreclosure. And for Barbie’s next foray into the workplace, you can get the new Bankruptcy Court playset. These toys can all work together to help explain to children the real life implications of overspending and out of control borrowing.

  50. pda_tech_guy says:

    I found the Link to the commercial on You Tube. IT is really low quality but you can hear at the end “You never run out of money!”

  51. topgun says:

    @jinjin1080:
    I’m giving you the MVP of this blog.
    Your post says it all

  52. bravo369 says:

    I don’t think it’s a big deal. A pre-schooler is not getting a credit card anyway. I would hope that by the time they are 18 or so, they understand they can’t spend at will. If they don’t then they are either a moron or severely spoiled.

  53. anatak says:

    Apparently the folks at Mattel didn’t learn their lesson from the last time they pulled this stunt. They’ve been reprimanded for a very similar product before – guess they just can’t resist those CC company dollars to subsidize their products. Was this one branded like the last one?

    Also, anyone saying that “its just a toy” and “parents should be teaching kids” obviously doesn’t have kids. That or your kids live in some bubble where they aren’t influenced by other kids and aren’t bombarded by stupid advertising like this.

  54. Anonymous says:


    There’s a better version of the video…
    Great social values there!

  55. Jess A. says:

    @wring: It’s worse than the Dora cash register preparing my child for a career in cashiering :P

    What’s even more alarming is the fact that I’ve worked with lots of college-aged employees who can’t count change at all. At least the Dora cash register might help get kids started down the road to actually knowing how to count money.

  56. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    @liquisoft: hey, when I was a kid, I had a toy printing press that had a plate for play money, and I didn’t turn out to be a counterfeiter. (Not that I’d admit it if I did, heh.)

  57. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I knew that Barbie was messed up when they did the Star Trek Barbie and she wasn’t the captain.

  58. wilmawonker says:

    this just reinforces the ‘i want that!’ attitude when you take kids to the store. If they think the credit cards have unlimited money, then of COURSE it doesn’t make sense when you refuse to buy them some piece of junk they want. Not only will it make them bad money managers later, but it will add to our own parenting woes.

  59. Trackback says:

    Oh dear. It seems Barbie has come up with yet another way to mess up little girls. Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique, the correctly named Barbie toy, features a built-in credit card swiper and a life-size credit card for young children to use when buying outfits for their dolls.

  60. Trackback says:

    Sukmawati Suryaman used Barbie as the inspiration to create a more modest doll for Muslim children. Salma wears long-sleeved prayer dresses, abayas, and head scarves, "making Salma's conservative clothing more familiar to [Indonesian] children than the glittering, pop-star inspired outfits…

  61. Elle Rayne says:

    @Ryuuie: They divorced several years ago. I’m serious: Mattel came out with a statement that Ken and Barbie had parted ways.

  62. soundengineer says:

    this kind of rubbish teaches kids that they not only have rights to unlimited money, but that the important things in life amount to consumerism…ugh! I know SO many people who are like that and it’s disgusting…Their highest priority isn’t high school, but the next one-wear-only-overpriced-outfit to wear to the next let’s-get-wasted-party.

    When I was small my Barbie was more of a family-type. I played with friends and yeah, we had fun dressing them up, but the little skits we played out were more realistic than just going to the mall. They had proper lives with nice friends and decent homes…and they were more interested in making pizza than dressing up. Hm. I wonder how all that changed. This is something that really riles me up…but I’ll stop myself from ranting here.