It’s never too early to begin teaching your kids about money and finance. While the banking question is one that might not arise until your kids are teens, the education teenagers need about managing their money today is wholly different from the one you may have received when you opened your first account.
Instead of lessons about writing checks, recording checks, and reconciling balances when statements arrived in the mail, today’s teens need to learn about online banking, mobile banking, low balances, overdrafts, and more. Before that, though, they need invaluable lessons about how to choose a financial institution that will meet their needs.
These are a few valuable lessons to share when introducing your teenager to managing their money in the modern world.
Each financial institution has something different to offer. Large, nationwide banks dominated banking for so long due to the convenience of a branch location on every corner. However, with the switch to online and mobile banking, this benefit has been dramatically reduced. Nowadays, checking balances, transferring money, depositing checks, and paying bills can be accomplished anywhere with a few simple clicks.
Credit unions differ significantly from large banks because they are not-for-profit financial institutions. More community focused, they return income generated back to the members in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings yields, and lower or eliminated fees.
Most credit unions also offer special accounts for teens that often require the parents to be part of the account. This feature will enable you to help your child learn the ins and outs of their first account, whether it is for depositing paychecks from a part-time job or simply teaching them how to manage their money responsibly.
Some people believe all teens need to know is how to swipe cards for transactions or ATM withdrawals. That isn’t the case at all. With today’s debit and ATM cards, teens need to understand the finer points of using the mobile banking app or online banking to manage their accounts. This includes everything from monitoring transactions to reconciling expenses at the end of a long month of spending and (hopefully) saving.
One of the most important lessons to teach teens is to keep up with their balances and check them regularly to make sure their account balance matches their numbers. If the two do not match, teens need to go back through the history to find out why.
Remind your teenager that many things could affect that balance, causing a difference between their balances and their financial institution’s, including:
Some convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, and delivery services place a hold on your debit card for more than you spent. With restaurants, it’s about accounting for a tip. With gas stations, it’s about reserving enough for a full tank of gas. In some cases, they will hold up to $100. The extra withholding will “fall off” within a few days, but it can skew the balance for several days until the original charge clears.
Also, each financial institution processes payments differently. If your teen makes a purchase after school with their debit card, the transaction may not show up on their account until the next morning. It’s important to remind your teenager to keep receipts or track all their expenses to prevent accidentally overspending.
From personal identification (PIN) numbers to account information, you must explain to your teenager that no one other than them should have access to these numbers. Keeping them secure is key to maintaining security for their accounts and preventing someone from wiping out their funds.
Opening that first account for teens is exciting and can be a “teeny-bit” frightening. We’re here to help ensure parents and teens get all the tools necessary to begin managing their finances.
Simply stop by our branch or give us a call at 800-343-6328 to learn more about our accounts designed specifically for teenagers.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.