If you’re a bank looking to woo the next generation of savers, I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t skimp on the candy.
My 10-year-old daughter and I recently embarked on a learning adventure to obtain a savings account for her. Along the way, I learned the correct way to do a fist bump, discovered a little history about John Paul Jones and got some keen insight into just how much my daughter understands about the banking system.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to let my daughter choose where she wanted to bank, so she could learn some life skills about comparing banks. We opted to visit three different banks to see what they had to offer.
We started with the bank where my husband and I have our account – Bank of America. After waiting for a few moments in our plush chairs and receiving a detailed lesson from my daughter on how to properly perform a fist bump, complete with a demonstration, we were escorted back to meet with a personal banker, a woman with “a very cool accent,” according to my daughter. While she was explaining the details of the account, she mentioned that we could set up a checking account and my daughter could have her own debit card. That’s when I realized the dangers of letting my 10-year-old in on the banking decisions.
My husband and I want her to have a savings account, so she can learn the value of saving for something. In this plastic-centered world, we want her to use cash to make her purchases so she actually sees the money leave her hands. A debit card is like magic to a 10-year-old. Swipe it, and you buy something. In her brain, she sees a limitless supply of money. Not a good plan for raising children who are responsible with money. With a shake of my head, I nixed the debit card, much to my daughter’s dismay.
My daughter’s next surprise came when she asked about the interest rate, which was 0.1%. “How much is that if I put $200 in my account?” she asked. “Pennies,” I answered. Welcome to the world of low interest rates, sweetheart. Good for borrowers; bad for savers.
After obtaining all the information, we thanked the lady with the “cool accent,” received our lollipop and left. On the way to the car, the stick on my daughter’s lollipop broke. She promptly named the bank “the broken sucker” bank.
Our next stop was Enterprise Bank and Trust, a smaller bank with less than a dozen local branches. The highlight of this stop was the clear glass door on the safe-deposit box vault. My daughter was fascinated by the wall of boxes behind the locked glass. We talked about the kinds of things people put in a safe deposit box and why there are two keyholes in each one.
While we were waiting for the personal banker, we also examined the flags on the walls. The bank had four replicas of famous flags, including one that flew on John Paul Jones’ ship. He’s the “I have not yet begun to fight” guy from the American Revolution. So, not only did my daughter get a lesson in economics, she learned some history on this trip, too.
When it was our turn to talk with the personal banker, she did a great job of treating my daughter like the customer, but when my daughter heard that the minimum deposit was $100, she immediately crossed this bank off her list. It’s not that she didn’t have $100; she just thought that was too much to open an account when you’re 10. She’s probably right. She asked about the interest rate again, and this bank’s interest rate was 0.4%. “How much would that get me?” my daughter asked. “Still pennies,” I answered.
We collected our small roll of Smarties and left the bank. This bank garnered the nickname “the small Smarties bank.” Out of time for the day, we decided to try a third bank on a different day.
Our third bank ended up being Bank Midwest. We were actually looking for US Bank because we had heard they have chocolate chip cookies, but led astray by the GPS, we couldn’t find the bank. Bank Midwest was in front of us, so we stopped there.
Of the banks we visited, this was the only one that has an account specifically aimed at kids. Their “Free ’Til 23” account gives young savers a no-fee, no-minimum-balance account until they are 23 years old. The interest rate was 0.15%. My daughter looked at me. “Still pennies,” I said. After a discussion about putting money in a CD to get a higher rate of interest, we left the bank – with no candy, thus garnering this bank the nickname “the no candy bank.”
“Well,” I said. “What do you think? Where do you want to open your account?”
“Broken sucker bank,” my daughter said.
“Why?” I asked.
“They have the best candy,” she said.
“And it will be convenient for you to pick up or deposit my money when you go to the bank. Plus that lady had a really cool accent.”
Despite all the questions about interest rates and minimum deposits, the talk of debit cards and no-fee accounts, the 10-year-old’s decision came down to good candy and a cool accent. Maybe all banks should add some money to their candy budgets and hire people who speak with an accent. You’ll be happy to know that after opening her account with the woman with the cool accent, her second sucker did not break on the way to the car, thus giving this bank a new nickname – “my bank.”
– Lori Fairchild is a freelance editor and writer. She is the founder of the Everyday Truth blog and loves her job as mom to her two daughters.