Thursday, May 3

Kids and Money: My Girls' New Bank Accounts

I will never forget the day that my parents handed me the passbook for my own bank account. They had been depositing "baby bonuses" over the years, and if I recall correctly there was close to a thousand bucks in the account. And it was all mine!! Did I rush right out and start spending? On the contrary. I immediately started stashing more money away, taking pleasure in watching the numbers rise. Gradually I began to find the joy in the "spending" side of things, however I would like to think that in general, I've been a pretty good money-manager since a young age. What went right? I've been reflecting on that, as I want my daughters to have the skills they need to be money-savvy even in tough economic times. (While I hope that the country will be more prosperous than ever in their adulthood, it never hurts to be prepared.)

We've been making deposits into RESP's for each of them, although I'm not sure we'll even tell them that until they make their own decision on post-secondary education, based on the premise that they will primarily be funding their own. (Someone remind me to take this post down when they are old enough to find and read my blog on their own. Which will be disturbingly soon.)

A couple of years ago we gave Frannie a Moonjar Moneybox, with three different sections marked "Save", "Spend" and "Share". My intention was to start giving her an allowance to distribute amongst the sections, but I haven't been at all consistent about it, and any money she received was randomly slotted for one spot or another.


Poor Maggie has been dealing with a two-inch high dollar store Dora piggybank, which was almost overflowing. (Not that she's rich. But don't try to explain to her that dozens of pennies are worth...well, 48 cents.)

On Easter Monday, I decided it was time for the two of them (yes, at the ripe old ages of six and four) to open their first bank accounts.

We headed for CIBC, where we do our banking. This is not a sponsored post in any way, and we certainly have had glitches with our CIBC products over the years (in university, two branches merged, and I unfortunately shared an account number with someone else, who continued to make withdrawals from my account. It took a while for a twenty year old student to convince a big bank that it really was their mistake and I did indeed keep track of my money!) but generally speaking they've been good enough to keep our business.

It's also a very true marketing fact that brand loyalty is instilled at an early age. Why are my daughters banking with CIBC? Because that's where my parents banked.

Heather was excellent with the girls, chatting with them, counting their cash, and putting stickers on their very first statements. They got their own bank cards (unfortunately there's now a monthly fee for passbooks, but in this age I guess checking one's own balance online should be just as exciting as the passbook update) and saw the grand total of their first piggybank deposits:

Frannie: $78.52

Maggie: $33.55

I went back to the store where we had purchased Frannie's Moonjar Moneybox, but they no longer carry them. Thankfully the company was kind enough to send one for Maggie. The new plan is that each girl gets four quarters per week, two for "Spend" and one each for "Save" and "Share".

When the Savings section gets full, we'll deposit it in the account. "Share" has been perfect for when charity or fundraising events come up at school or church. It doesn't seem as painful to give up the money when they know it's already been earmarked for good deeds.

Frannie just took money from her "Spend" jar, transferred it to her wallet, and proudly marched into Zellers to buy a Queen Amidala figurine (yes, my daughter loves Star Wars). It was a proud moment for me as well. I was also impressed that Maggie didn't even peep when I said that she wouldn't be getting a toy that day, as she didn't have "Spend" money to use. (Her birthday hasn't arrived yet.)

Another quick tip about teaching money: we've started playing a game with coins while waiting for our meals at restaurants (not exactly sanitary; wash hands again before eating!) If the girls name the penny, nickel, dime and quarter correctly they get to keep them (Frannie also needs to name the value). We eat out too often for me to start throwing loonies and toonies around for free, though! Once they've mastered that, we'll move on to the relationships (four quarters in a dollar, etc.) There is a money focus in every year of the curriculum, but without constant exposure I've seen firsthand that kids can easily forget from one year to the next.

Visit the Moonjar website to order products or for more valuable tips!

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