Carole Ferguson September 13, 2018 at 8:05 AM

Launch kids into a lifetime of financial responsibility



I remember when my mom opened the first bank accounts for my sister and me. We spent an evening rolling the change from our piggy banks. All those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters added up to around $27 for each of us.

The next morning, our mom took us to the bank. We handed over our change and got spiffy bank books in return. In the pre-digital age, we used these small booklets to add every deposit of birthday and Christmas money and subtract the few dollars we withdrew for a new toy. My sister and I learned how to endorse checks, fill out deposit slips, and hand it all over to the teller.

In high school, I got my first debit card. It introduced an easy way to access cash to fund my first steps of adolescent freedom -- going to movies with friends and taking the bus to the mall. By the time I went out of state to attend college, banking was old hat. I opened a new account with a new bank, got my first box of checks and an ATM card. I also got my first credit card and quickly learned how interest rates work.

You can help your child become proficient in financial literacy by introducing them to banking, and help them progress from basic savings accounts to more sophisticated strategies as they grow.

Young children

One of the best ways to introduce kids to banking is with a basic savings account. Financial institutions, including SAFE Credit Union, offer accounts just for kids. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Young boys and girls can learn how to deposit checks from grandma and cash from allowance into their savings account.
  • They can watch their account gather extra money through dividends.
  • They can learn to save for a goal, such as a new bike or video game.
  • They can deposit their money in a safe place, away from easy temptation of having it stashed in drawer at home.

Help your kids learn more! Go here to learn about smart savings habits.


While today’s teens may never actually write a check, they are eligible to sign up for checking accounts. These accounts provide teens a launch pad toward financial independence.

  • These digital natives can use apps and online banking to monitor and move their money.
  • They receive an ATM or debit card to obtain cash or make purchases.
  • They can link the account to digital payment methods.
  • They have a secure place to directly deposit paychecks from that first job.
  • And yes, they can even get a box of low-tech checks if they’d like.

They can further enhance their budding financial life through products that encourage them to save. Financial institutions offer automatic transfers from checking into savings accounts. At SAFE, we have a savings program called Perfect Cents Savings® that rounds up every purchase made with SAFE’s Visa® debit card to the next whole dollar amount. At the end of the day, that “change” is transferred into a SAFE savings account of their choice.

Your teens can learn more about the nuts and bolts of checking accounts here.

College students and young adults

College students may still often turn to the “bank of mom and dad,” but as adults they enter a new realm of financial opportunities. They are eligible to apply for credit cards and other loan types, and join retirement savings plans. Before sending your children off to college or into the workforce, set them up with a solid mix of accounts – and a plan.

  • Checking accounts provide tools needed for purchases, to pay bills, and to accept direct deposits. Young adults can attach digital payment apps to the account to easily share the costs for pizzas and rent.
  • Help them sign up for automatic transfers into a savings account so they can start building an emergency fund.
  • It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. Remember, compound dividends plus time is a savers’ formula for success. Encourage your kids to start saving for retirement either through an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or through employers’ 401(K)s. They will get in the habit of paying themselves first, and they will get a head start on building a bundle for later.

Arm your college student with the knowledge of responsibly handling credit, creating budgets, and building an emergency savings.

Learn more about savings options for kids at

Do you have tips to share on how to get kids on a solid start to financial literacy? Please share below.

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Carole Ferguson

Carole Ferguson is the senior content manager at SAFE Credit Union with the marketing department. She has spent a career sharing stories of people, places and issues through writing and editing.