Sometimes, the best way to learn is through experience. You can try to teach your children about money by explaining the concepts to them, but often, they won’t really understand until they save and spend. Many parents use tools like play money, allowances, and piggy banks to help prepare their children to make financially wise decisions, but when is it time to move on to the real thing? If you’re wondering if it’s time to open a checking or savings account for your child, here’s our advice:
When to Open a Savings Account for Your Child
Is your child ready to move from the piggy bank to a real savings account? Here’s how to know when it’s the right time to open a savings account for your child:
They Show an Interest in Money
Is your child asking about money and how it works? Do they get excited by dropping coins in their piggy bank? Any curiosity about money is your first clue that your child is ready to have an official savings account. Opening a savings account at a credit union will teach them the best way to save and set them up for future success.
They’ve Got a full Piggy Bank
Piggy banks offer a great lesson about how savings can build up over time, but if your child’s piggy bank is full, it’s time to move on to the next lesson. A credit union savings account offers something a piggy bank can’t – interest! When your child adds money to their interest-bearing account, they’ll see that saving money actually earns them money.
They're Eager to Save
Many children save up and count their coins in the hopes of making a big purchase (usually a toy). If this is your child, then it’s definitely time to open a savings account in their name. Saving can be difficult, and it’s tempting to sacrifice a big purchase for a few impulsive buys, especially when piggy banks offer easy access to funds. Help your child see the reward of saving big by opening a savings account for them. A savings account can be opened at any time. As long as the parent has a social security number, he or she can open an account for the child at any time.
When to Open a Checking Account for Your Child
If your child is at least 13 years old, it might be time to open a checking account. Checking accounts offer a little more responsibility, so they’re usually better suited for teens. Here’s how to know when it’s time to open a checking account for your child:
They’ve Shown Responsibility in Other Ways
Because a checking account means the ability to spend at-will, you’ll need to make sure your child has consistently demonstrated responsibility and the ability to use judgment to avoid temptation. Whether they’ve saved up for a few purchases or shown responsibility in other ways (like consistently taking care of chores without being asked or getting a learner’s permit or part-time job), a responsible child is probably ready for a checking account.
They Don’t Have Opportunities to Learn About Personal Finance
A checking account is the foundation for financial wisdom, and sometimes it’s the only opportunity for a child or teenager to learn about money. Most schools don’t address these foundational financial concepts, so it’s up to you to help your child learn. It’s a good idea for a teenager to have a checking account for a few years so they have some practice before they become an adult.
They’re Carrying Around a Lot of Cash
Wallets, purses, and pockets often play the role of a checking account for many teenagers, but not only is this an inefficient practice, it’s also dangerous. Without any kind of record keeping, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of saving and spending. Carrying wads of cash is also dangerous and can make them a target for crime. Keep them safe and help them learn about budgeting by opening a checking account in their name.
If you’re eager to introduce your children to the world of personal finance, checking and savings accounts are a good place to start. Community First has a range of accounts to help you get started, but our Youth SureBalance account is best for teens.
Learn More about SureBalance Checking