|March 19, 2002
A penny saved is a penny earned
By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer
Saving pennies and depositing allowance money will not solve
any national economic problems. It will, however, ease the stress
of a car payment or first-year's tuition at college.
Teaching good savings habits is the focus of many banks here
in the Valley. With the help of a parent as a co-signer, youths
may open accounts with some saved allowance or birthday money.
Many banks are throwing in a higher interest rate, prizes and
"kids only” club-member status to sweeten the deal. And it is
a trend that has already proven successful.
In 1999 Government Agencies Federal Credit Union implemented
a youth program. It has two focuses — a "Saving Safari Club” for
kids ages 0-12 and a "Star Account” for kids ages 13 to 17.
"We are interested in the youth in the community and we want
to encourage them to save,” said Erika Gonzalez, membership development
coordinator at the El Centro GAFCU.
For the younger crowd at GAFCU a birthday card is thrown into
the deal and for the teens monthly raffles are done for items
such as movie tickets, gift certificates and school supplies are
Similar programs are being implemented in other banks around
First Imperial Credit Union offers a "Coyote Kids Account” in
which tokens redeemable for prizes are given in return for making
In about two years the program has already garnered a couple
hundred accounts, according to Kathy Gonzalez, business development
worker at the credit union.
"We encourage the young kids of today to start saving for the
future,” said Gonzalez.
Wells Fargo offers a "ClubWF1” account for its younger customers
with an option of getting an official "membership card.”
Despite a trend of many parents opening accounts for their children,
Jennifer Castillo, Valley Independent Bank relationship banking
officer in El Centro, said the bank has made several presentations
at schools in the Valley.
She said the presentation encourages kids to go to the bank and
open the accounts themselves. She also emphasizes the importance
of making deposits and not withdrawals, allowing money for future
expenses such as college, purchasing a vehicle and "helping Mom
and Dad pay for school clothes.”
Some banks are trying to take things one step further and institute
a "bank day” program in the schools.
Washington Mutual's "Wamoola” program provides interested schools
with the hardware, software and teaching materials for a bank
day program but "nobody has taken advantage of it here,” said
Celia Alvarado, assistant manager at the El Centro branch.
The program is for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.Washington
Mutual offers a "minor account” for youths under age 18, Alvarado
said kids often come in and tell her about their deposits.
"You'd be surprised,” she said, referring to the deposits of
$10 to hundreds of dollars young people make with money earned
Such an earning potential is celebrated next month with a National
Financial Literacy for Youth Month.
The nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education of San
Diego, a partner in the national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal
Financial Literacy, joins with other leaders in the finance industry
to sponsor Financial Literacy for Youth Month in April 2002.
"This nationwide, month-long, effort of the national Jump$tart
coalition, its statewide coalitions and partners, will draw attention
to the need for children and young adults to master the basic
skills in personal finance of spending, saving and the wise use
of credit,” said Paul S. Richard, registered financial consultant
and ICFE executive director.
"The key is for parents to become actively involved (in) their
youngsters financial education and begin with establishing the
difference between needs, wants and wishes,” he added.
One feature on the ICFE Web site is especially for kids. As part
of Financial Literacy for Youth month, youths will be able to
print out or download both a "Young Spender's Profile” and a "Credit
Risk Profile” to better understand how a potential lender might
The ICFE offers tips for youths and their financial habits. Read
below for the "10 Commandments of Personal Finance for Young People
1. Manage your expenses so they don't exceed your income.
2. Spend money thinking of your future as well as your present.
3. Begin saving early to take advantage of compound interest.
4. Avoid collecting credit cards and using them for borrowing.
5. Always honor your debts and other financial obligations.
6. Project your income and expenses for the next 12 months and
7. Focus on the relationship between the risk and projected return
8. Maintain organized records for tax and general financial planning
9. Have a plan and a purpose for your investing.
10. Obtain a financial education to be in a position to make
intelligent financial decisions.
>> To access the ICFE Web site visit www.financial-education-icfe.org