We all have that friend (or maybe you’re “that friend”) who when she found out she was pregnant promptly went out and set up a savings account for her unborn child. In lieu of traditional baby shower gifts, monetary donations to the child’s savings account were warmly encouraged. Assuming you have more than one friend with kids, you probably also have a friend who is the type that waits until the last minute to do everything. Procrastination is her middle name, and her child may first learn about banking and account management when she is getting ready to leave for college. If you’re like most parents, you are somewhere on the continuum between these extremes, and may be wondering, have I waited too long to start a savings account for my child?
Finances can be baffling enough for us as adults, but thinking about handling accounts for our children can seem particularly daunting. We spoke with Melina Young at Verity Credit Union to get some answers to common “kid’s savings account” questions.
When is the right time to start a savings account for a child?
Parents should really try to open and start contributing regularly to a savings account for their child as early as possible, and optimally, will also be having regular conversations with their child about money. It is as important to help children develop a healthy appreciation for wise money management as it is to start stockpiling savings for their futures. They, after all, will need to be in charge of their financial future long after they leave home.
How can parents teach children sound financial values and practices?
One great way to start introducing your child to the fundamentals of handling money is Moonjar. The Moonjar product is like a piggy bank tripled — it comes with three color-coded compartments labeled “Save,” “Spend,” and “Share.” Kids are encouraged to divide their money among these three compartments as a means of learning about the importance of not just spending all their money as it comes in, but of saving some for the future and sharing some with those less fortunate. We at Verity believe so strongly in the Moonjar mission of teaching financial literacy to children that we gift a free Moonjar with every new kid’s account opened.
What about opening a checking account for a teenager?
Teens these days are more technologically and financially savvier than ever before, and this finesse hasn’t escaped notice in the financial world. Verity has recently lowered the minimum age to open a youth checking account to 14; account-holders receive a debit card for this account type. We have turned off the ability to “overdraw” the account (so kids can’t pull from their parent’s account or their savings account if tempted to overspend), and they will not be assessed overdraft fees. Youth checking accounts teach teens to only spend what they have available.
How can parents get children interested in responsible money management habits?
Verity’s new kids accounts are tailored for three different age groups: elementary, middle, and high school ages. Each account cohort has a corresponding website providing games, calculators, a blog (written by kids for kids), photo contests, and more. These sites are fun and interactive, with the underlying goal of boosting kids’ money IQ:
When should parents worry that it is too late to save effectively for their child?
Luckily, it’s never too late to set up an account for your child and start talking to him or her about money fundamentals. Start the conversation and keep it going — the benefits will last a lifetime.
Are kids accounts pretty much the same at all financial institutions that offer them?
Well, I am going to go ahead and be biased and say I think that Verity’s new kids accounts are better than any I have seen out there. One great thing we do differently: Instead of giving new account-holders branded stuff that they don’t really need (e.g., stickers, T-shirts, toys), we have opted to provide an activity reimbursement every year to encourage kids to get out there and be active! So, whether they love soccer, ballet, chess club, swimming, or playing clarinet, basketball, or softball, Verity will reimburse them for some of that activity expense every year. How much?
- Ages 0-10 (5 Spot account): $20 annual reimbursement
- Ages 11-13 (AJ’s account): $30 annual reimbursement
- Ages 14-17 (C-Note account): $40 annual reimbursement
That can really add up over time! For parents, we’ve made sure that the reimbursement process isn’t tedious and lengthy.
Learn more about how to apply for kids savings and youth checking accounts at: www.veritycu.com/forkids.
Still have questions? Email them to email@example.com and Verity will address them in upcoming columns.