Banks can be fun, or at least one of those tolerable errands, when you’re a child. There’s all that money everywhere, of course. The nice people behind the counter tend to give you a lollipop. Sometimes you might find a welcoming plate of chocolate-chip cookies in the lobby. You might even score some bank swag, like a pen or a piggy bank.
It’s a little different for adults, of course, who may be there to deposit a paycheck, or instead, be there to discuss a couple $35 fees with the teller, who then adds, “And, by the way, you’ve been turned down for that loan.”
So if you want to open a bank account for your child and ensure that his or her experiences with the bank continue to be positive and happy, here are a few strategies to consider.
Ask your bank if it has special accounts for children. Many banks do these days, recognizing that young banking customers with $5 a week in allowance money will someday be old banking customers with a mortgage and a car loan. Some banks’ websites have pages designed for children, with educational materials on everything from using credit cards to paying taxes, and they’ll even send your kid’s bank statement to his or her email account.
But if your bank doesn’t have a special account for kids, check around and see what you think about some of the money-management sites out there for children and teenagers, like Zefty and MoneyTrail, which are both free and help kids keep track of their allowances.
If you’re opening an adult-designed bank account for your kid, look hard at a savings account instead of a checking account. If your child is a teenager earning money from a job, then, sure, a checking account is probably the way to go. Otherwise, it’s more prudent to go with a savings account, so your kid can learn something about collecting interest. If he or she is going to be withdrawing money from the checking account all the time, stick with putting money in a piggy bank. The last thing you need is your child overdrawing the account. And about that…
Make sure there aren’t monthly fees attached to your child’s bank account. Most banks, especially with accounts designed for kids, won’t do that to your little one, but obviously you’ll want to check and find out. Your son or daughter isn’t going to be happy if he or she puts $10 in an account and a few weeks later, an $8.95 maintenance fee is deducted. You probably won’t be too pleased either. It’s better if your kid grows up having positive feelings about banks, rather than seeing them as a giant monolith that, in the end, wants to charge you as many fees as possible. No sense in giving your kids too much reality just yet. You may as well tell them that the lollipop and those chocolate chip cookies are just going to go straight to their thighs…
Image by David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net.
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