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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"A Penny Saved Is What?"cries the Kramer children

See a penny, pick it up... and SPEND IT! That would be my kids' motto.

A few years ago the bank (where I work)came out with the Jr. Savers Club. The great savings program awards $10 to every child that makes 10 deposits -- not a bad return for fairly low balances. I was so excited when this program came out. Certainly it would inspire my two spend-thrifty offspring to start saving.

So, I went home with two cool "Jr. Saver" t-shirts and two savings passbooks. (One was decorated with a Star Wars sticker for Cole and the other a cute puppy for Alex.) Then I explained the program.

“Cool t-shirts!”

“So, are you excited to start saving money?”

They shrugged. “I guess.”

I’m a banker, right? So, why don't my children understand the value of savings? Well, it was high time they start living up to their mother's name. So I thought. A year after I brought home the savings cards, I looked at their passbooks. Each had ONE deposit in their pass books, dated right around their birthdays.

Obviously, a program in and of itself can’t change behavior. Especially when you’re dealing with kids. So here’s a few things my hubby and I have done in attempt to raise good savers:

1) After brainstorming ways they could make money, we set up a “chore system” that pays them one dollar for each star they receive. Stars don’t come easy, so they understand how hard it can be to make money. (We also had to implement the rule of not accepting chore money from grandparents after my young son was offering to clean Grandpa’s garage in return for a few bucks…)
2)Then we implemented a plan to help them understand the consequence of making good choices. Every time we go out to eat, our kids can choose a beverage or they can drink water. If they drink water, we’ll give them a dollar. My daughter has done quite well on this program – putting back a dollar every time we visit a restaurant. When my son complains about her having more money, we remind him that he doesn’t have to drink soda when we go out. (It might prevent a cavity as well.)
3)Finally, we allow them to make a withdrawal from their savings account when their tenth deposit is attained. Both of the kids purchased their own IPods this way. Not only did they have great satisfaction in using their own money to pay for the device, but they take also take great care of it, much to Mom’s surprise!

So, they’re starting to get it. Admittedly, there are times when they need to be reminded of the value of savings. But don’t we all?

To find out more about the SCSB Jr. Saver's Club, check out our website. (If you have older kids, check out the GoBank website.)

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