savings

Should your child have a savings account?

If you're wondering about the best time to open a savings account for your child, then it's time -- no matter what his or her age is. There's nothing wrong with starting early -- but you can open up an account in the wrong way. So if you're thinking about heading to the bank with your tot in tow, here are some guidelines to consider.

Open a savings account, not a checking account. When your child is a teenager, it's probably a good idea to start branching out into something more complex. But if your child is truly a child, let's not make it complicated and, more importantly, let's collect some interest.

Stay away from fees. Fortunately, most banks and credit unions, if they know this is designed for a child, won't stick you with a maintenance or minimum balance fee.

Make sure there's an online component to the account. If your child can check the balance on the computer, he or she is going to be more interested in seeing the money grow.

Look for extras. Some banks and credit unions offer an ATM card that a child can use to take out money for a special occasion or if they've been saving up for something big. Depending on what you want out of the savings account, you may want to look for a component like that.

Look for a bank that promotes financial education. There is nothing wrong with finding a standard adult savings account and having your child put his or her allowance in there, but some financial institutions make saving fun and teach kids good money habits.

Enjoying the process of saving and learning why it's important, is crucial. After all, eventually your kid will spend that saved money and the last thing you want, after years of painstakingly putting money away in a savings account, is for your child to blow it on a wild shopping spree.

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