When it comes to financial education, it’s never too early to start. Adopting good habits at an early age can have a positive impact on the way a young person handles money down the road. By working as a team, parents and kids can successfully navigate this journey together.
As with everything in life, starting off on the right foot is essential. Guiding a young person slowly and carefully into financial independence will take time. The questions will persist – when should you open your own checking account? When should you get your first debit card? How can you reduce the risk of overspending? And how can you continue to stay consistent in these habits? Here's a quick journey down that road to help you address those questions.
1. Start with a savings account.
A good introduction into financial independence begins with a gradual, measured approach. An Early Saver savings account and ATM card are a great starting point. ATM cards are linked to the savings account and allow deposits withdrawals at ATMs only. They can't be used to make purchases. This minimizes security risks in the event they're lost or stolen. Approximately half of young members get their first ATM card by the time they're 12 years old. With smart usage of an ATM card, kids can make cash withdrawals and learn how to budget based on the amount of cash they take out.
2. Ease into it.
Newfound financial freedom can be quite a rush of excitement, but it can also be overwhelming. Parents should bear this in mind when introducing new freedoms. Many teens open their first checking account by 16. This provides plenty of time for a young person to learn the basics of banking and develop good habits. However, mistakes will happen – don't fret! Look at them as learning opportunities. Ensure that the money is being managed responsibly using the ATM card, and then introduce the ease of a debit card a little bit later.
3. Direct deposit is a must.
Whether it's a paid internship or your first part-time job, that first paycheck is a huge milestone – especially with a new checking and savings account. Whenever it happens, sign up for direct deposit. That might sound like a given, but here's an added tip: when filling out the paperwork, be sure to designate a small amount of each paycheck into your savings account. After a few months, you'll be surprised at the savings you've earned. Keep it up!
4. Go digital.
Want to know exactly when that direct deposit gets added to your account balance? Well, teens (and many adults) use an app for everything these days. But what if your teen's next favorite app teaches them about managing money? With the BECU mobile app and online banking, you can do everything from viewing your balances to setting text alerts. As digital banking becomes the norm, parents have an opportunity to learn the latest advances from the kids. Read about our newest online banking features and how to sign up here. Want to know more about our mobile app? You can read about that here.
If your teenager is receiving an allowance, pay them electronically. It will force them to routinely check their balances for accurate recordkeeping. No matter the balance, the value of having online banking – as well as an effective budgeting app such as BECU's Money Manager -- exceeds any dollar amount.
5. Don't panic.
The better your teen understands the difference between their Available Balance and their Current Balance, the less likely they'll be to overspend as an adult. However, if a member does incur an NSF/Overdraft fee, the important part is learning from the experience and handling it correctly. Read BECU's Account Agreements (PDF) and BECU's Account Disclosure (PDF) for important information about BECU NSF fees, Overdraft fees, NSF/Overdraft Protection and our Funds Availability Policy .
Good financial habits, like the ones you consider in a new baby budget, are formed early. BECU Early Saver accounts are designed for members 17 and under. They not only offer a great opportunity to teach kids about saving money, but they also earn a premium rate on the first $500 in deposits. Open an Early Saver account and get the opportunity to learn about financial responsibility. When more people grow up making better financial decisions, everybody wins.