If you have very young children, you might not think that they need a bank account just yet. But there’s no better time than the present to begin socking money away for them. Having an account that is dedicated to your child’s expenses means that you’ll have funds to draw from for summer camps, a passion for violin, a new sport, or school trips. And eventually, they can use the funds for larger expenses, like a car, and ultimately, college.
Opening an Account
You could open a savings account at your current bank, but before you do that, it’s worth taking the time to investigate your options. Nichol Beckstrand, president of Sunrise Banks, suggests asking yourself whether you want your minor to have access to their money and whether you want them to be able to receive gifts; those criteria will affect which type of account you choose.
Earning While You Save
Your money can grow over time. There are many online banks that offer high interest savings accounts, where you could earn 1.5% APY, or even higher in some cases. Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers high-yield interest savings accounts with a rate of 1.6%, which is four times more than the national average, according to the company.
Limiting Your Access
There may be times when you need to withdraw funds from your child’s account for purposes other than child-related expenses. Unless it’s an emergency, Beckstrand advises against doing so. “Think about opening an account that you cannot automatically transfer out of - limiting your own ability to spend the money helps to keep the savings intact,” he says. Obviously, if you absolutely need to withdraw from the account, do so, but pay it back when you can.
A bank account also presents a perfect opportunity to teach your child about money. Kids aren’t born understanding how money works, and the concept of delayed gratification can be a challenge for them (and us!). "Take advantage of your influence as a financial role model and help kids learn basic concepts of finance and saving,” says Diane Morais, president of Consumer & Commercial Banking Products at Ally Bank, Once kids are ready for an allowance, show them how to divvy up their bounty between savings, sharing (i.e., for charity or gifts), and spending, she advises. “This can help even the youngest children learn self-discipline.".
Giving Kids Access
During the teen years, kids may start to have expenses of their own, so it’s a good time for them to become familiar with how transacting and budgeting works. Morais suggests a pre-paid credit card for this purpose. “This way, teens can track how much they’ve spent and how much they have left. Being able to manage electronic money can be a valuable skill when it’s time for them to apply for their own accounts.” A debit card paired with the account you have set up for them is another option, but if you would rather not run the risk of your child dipping too heavily into that account, open a separate account with a debit card that is solely theirs.
Making Financial Gifts
If you or other family members are in a position to give your child financial gifts that you would like your child to have access to when they’re of age, Tina McDonald, senior vice president at Bryn Mawr Trust, a financial services company in Pennsylvania, recommends a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account, which are offered by a number of banking and investment institutions, like Fidelity, Oppenheimer, and Bank of America. “Parents are the custodian and have the ability to manage the account under the child's Social Security number,” she says. “This account format requires the custodian to hand over control of the assets to the child at anywhere from age 18 to 21, depending on the state.”
No matter whether you have a newborn or a teen, it’s never too early or too late to start saving. Do what you can, even if it’s a few dollars a week, and add more when you are able. You - and they - will be happy you did.
You Might Also Like