Beyond the Piggy Bank

BankBlocks

Help your child grow a nest egg with their own savings account.

Opening a bank account for your child may not have been a priority in the early years of parenthood, when it’s hard to think about anything but sleep schedules and diaper changes. But there are lots of good reasons to take this step sooner rather than later.

Many financial advisers will suggest opening an account between ages 6 and 10, but we each opened our kids’ accounts while they were still in diapers. Even if your child is still too young for an allowance, they’ve probably gotten some birthday money from doting grandparents, aunts and uncles. If so, they won’t miss an extra gift, so use the money instead to start their nest egg. Even small checks add up over the years. It also may not seem important now, but opening a bank account early also helps to establish their good credit score.

Darcy Says: My almost 10-year-old is pretty proud about of his savings account, which now has more than $500. He has recently started to add his own earnings from bottle deposits and scrubbing his Aunt Miel’s fish tank. More importantly, he’s started to make goals for things he wants to buy, while still happily saving.

Most banks only require $5 for a child to open an account, some only $1. Just remember that you will need to bring a copy of their social security card.

Perhaps the easiest route is to just open a savings account wherever you already bank, but there are some local youth-centric programs worth looking into. Oregonians Federal Credit, Bank of the West, Umpqua Bank and Albina Community Bank all offer youth programs with no fees and higher interest rates. Some banks even offer activities to keep your kids interested in learning about money. Here’s a few programs with special perks:

Rivermark Credit Union has special events for kids, gives “coins” for prizes, and transitions as they grow into teens with college savings and auto loans.

Unitus Credit Union has a youth program that also includes online learning games, a downloadable tracking sheet for goals, and a quarterly newsletter with activities.

You shouldn’t expect your kids to care about their account balance on a daily basis, but make a point to share their quarterly statement and find ways to celebrate milestones together. You may even consider matching their savings, which can help show them the meaning of compound interest.

Like any financial decision, it’s personal. But it’s important to be open with your kids about money and encourage them to set goals and get creative. Accounts are just another way to share with your kids, and help them learn some valuable life lessons. n

Find Darcy & Miel online at sustainablefamilyfinances.com on twitter @SustainableFam.

Darcy Cronin and Alanna Miel
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Darcy Cronin and Alanna Miel

Contributing Writers at Sustainable Family Finances
Identical twins Darcy Cronin and Miel Hendrickson blog at SustainableFamilyFinances.com. Darcy is a mother of three and a Mama Bliss Coach in Portland; Miel has a baby son and is the executive director of Portland-based Green Empowerment.
Darcy Cronin and Alanna Miel
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