smart spending

12 days of financial gift giving

Checking account
Checking account

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a checking account to start learning about deposits.

Holiday checks are often one of the first incentives for a young person to have his or her own checking account.

"Their first interaction with checks will be as presents or as payment for something like baby-sitting or dog walking," says Linfield. "They now understand that these are alternatives to paper currency, and the only way to turn that into paper currency is to go to the bank and either deposit it or cash it."

Seaman says today's teens may be the last generation to actually use paper checks. "Debit cards are becoming the preferred way for younger people to handle expenses," she says. "Now, checkbooks are only needed for paying things like the rent; everything else is done online."

Gone, too, is the parental tutorial on how to reconcile a check register. "I haven't balanced my checkbook in four years because I'm dealing with things online," says Seaman.

That doesn't mean teens don't still require some guidance.

"Parents have an opportunity to guide children on how quickly fund debits will show up in their account and how to create an overdraft buffer so they don't trigger an overdraft," Seaman says.

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