17 Jan When should I open a bank account for my child?
Opening a bank account for a child is an important milestone in growing up and is a great step in learning more about how the world works. Choosing to open an account for your child, whether it’s mainly for saving money, earning and spending or so they can have their own debit card, should be just that – a conscious choice because it is a significant step. We’ll help you navigate this journey, consider the right time, understand the benefits, and come out on the other side as the coolest finance-savvy parents. So, let’s dive into the piggy bank and fish out some answers!
First things first:
Why should I open a bank account for my child?
Who needs a bank account when they have a piggybank? Keeping your money somewhere safe at home is a great way to learn how to count money, save and plan for the future. However, there comes a point when a child might want a better way to visualise their savings, monitor spending and have a debit card in order to make purchases.
Here are just a few of the practical benefits for setting up a bank account.
Teaches money management: Having their own bank account can be a child’s first step towards understanding money management. It’s a hands-on way to learn about saving, spending wisely, and watching their money grow.
Boosts financial literacy: Building on money management, what better way to learn about banking, transactions, and the concept of interest than owning a bank account? Developing financial literacy provides a solid foundation for when they actually begin earning and spending and are considering larger purchases or even taking out that student loan!
Fosters responsibility: With great power (or money, in this case) comes great responsibility. Managing their own money can teach your child about making informed decisions and the consequences they bear.
Encourages saving and planning: A bank account is a great tool to inspire saving habits. Seeing their balance increase over time can motivate your child to save more and they can plan how they will spend it.
Prepares for the future: Opening a bank account can be a stepping stone to understanding more complex financial concepts down the line, like investments, loans, and credit scores.
What, therefore, is the trigger for having done with the piggy and registering a bank account with an actual high street bank?
The reason behind opening a ‘savings’ account is most obvious – you’re going to earn some interest (if you find the right account) which rewards children for saving their money. The piggybank, as useful as it has been, never offers more than 0% net interest so there’s no benefit in keeping it in there. Furthermore, being able to see the amount of money in an account, whether is it still on a paper statement or in an online account, makes more sense than having pile of coin of various denominations occasionally sprawled around the bedroom floor.
Here’s the thing:
Opening a current account, primarily for earning and spending or ‘transactional’ purposes will depend on how independent your child is and how often they’re likely to withdraw cash from an ATM or pay for something using their card. Of course, there are pros and cons to having a debit card; mainly around the convenience and security issues, respectively.
When should I open a bank account for my child?
As for the question of when, well, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your child’s age, understanding of money, and, of course, their enthusiasm for the idea. Here are some factors to consider:
Age and understanding: The ideal age to open a bank account for your child can be as soon as they’re old enough to grasp the basic concept of money – typically around the age of 7 or 8. Of course, every child is different, so tailor this to your child’s comprehension level.
Financial literacy: Before you head to the bank, take some time to explain what a bank account is, and how it works. Use examples, play pretend bank, or even use online resources or books to make it clear. The more they understand, the more they’ll get out of the experience.
Willingness to save: Has your child been stashing away coins in a piggy bank? If they’re showing an interest in saving, they might be ready for the real deal!
Other options: If you think your child isn’t quite ready for their own account yet, you could explore custodial accounts, or keep their money in a designated place in your account. Then, together you can track the amount, discuss when and why it changes, and prepare for the eventual transition to their own account.
As soon as your child begins earning, spending and saving in large enough and frequent enough amounts that it becomes a hassle; that is when a real life bank account should be opened. But with this should have come a degree of independence. In fact, you might not need to open a bank account for your child – when the time is right, they will do it themselves (although you might need to go with them to sign things!).
Most banks will allow you to open an account on behalf of your child as soon as they’re born. A child can open an account themselves, in most cases, when they are seven years old. At this age, they can set up a basic or current account to deposit and withdraw money (if they/you wish). Most banks offer accounts for children with a debit card from when they’re 11, and hopefully they’ll be responsible enough to not rush out and spend everything they have with that small but powerful piece of plastic!
Practical tips for parents
So you’ve decided to embark on this banking journey with your kid – way to go! Now, remember, this should be an interactive, fun process. Allow your child to be involved in the account setup. Make sure they get to see how transactions happen, and explain the terms and conditions in a language they understand. This could be a great bonding time for you and your mini money manager!
1. Choose the right account: Look for an account that is child-friendly, one that has low fees, and ideally, an interest rate. It’s like finding the perfect piggy bank, just bigger and better!
2. Set savings goals: Make the experience engaging by setting savings goals together. Maybe there’s a special toy they’re eyeing, or they’re saving up for a fun day at the amusement park. It’s a practical lesson in delayed gratification.
3. Regularly review the account: Make it a habit to review the account together. This could be a monthly ritual where you check how much they’ve saved, discuss their spending, and talk about their goals.
4. Keep the conversations going: Make money talk a normal part of your household conversations. Discuss financial news at their level, talk about the family budget, and encourage questions about money.
5. Lead by example: Your actions can teach them a lot about money management. When you’re out shopping, show them how you compare prices, wait for sales, or avoid impulse buying.
6. Discuss other ways to invest: Earning interest on your money is great, but it’s a very slow process and sometimes banks offer very low returns. There are other options available depending on which country you’re in and investing in something like an index fund can be more interesting and valuable in the long term.
7. Find other ways to earn: Investments and interest usually build cash over a long period of time. But kids can earn money far faster, either through doing chores around the house or getting a part-time job in their teens.
8. Explore entrepreneurship: Starting a business is one of the fastest ways to accrue wealth on a much larger scale than most people can through a job or even investing. Selling products, especially online, or earning through sponsorship like so many influencers can these days, are genuine career options for today’s kids.
And there we have it! Opening a bank account for your child can be a fantastic tool to kickstart their financial journey. It’s like giving them a map to navigate the world of money matters. The ‘when’ largely depends on your child’s readiness, but the ‘why’ is clear: to empower them with financial literacy, responsibility, and an understanding of money management.
So, brave parents, are you ready to take the plunge? Grab your kid, get out there, and open that first bank account. Trust us, it’s one decision you’ll bank on for years to come!