Teaching Children to Save

Sara Swift, from Utah Central Credit Union, shares some ideas for helping your kids to learn how to be better savers.


Americans are the poorest savers in the world. In fact one survey said Americans are the world’s most cash-strapped people. Nearly a quarter of Americans have no money left once they’ve paid for their essential living expenses, (Source: CNN Money, January 2006)

A survey of Consumer Finance found that only 41% of Americans save regularly and three-fourths of American households carry debt. (Source: MSN Money).

Not a pretty picture.

But the good news, is it’s never too late to start good habits to teach small children the value of saving.

How do we do that?

Well, it’s not easy with small children because they really haven’t learned the value of money yet. They are motivated by tangible things like toys, food, playtime, and social interactions with family and friends.

So at a very young age, parents really play the key role in getting children to save. It’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

Some experts in the financial industry believe our spending and saving habits are shaped as young as between 5 and 7 years old — and this often determines whether they will wind up spenders or savers, so better to start now. (Source: CNN Money)

Several moms and dads of young children say that it helps to focus on what the money is going to buy. That way, the child can see the relationship between money and savings.

For example, a mom of an eight year old girl has a point system. Points or money are earned when certain goals are achieved: whether it’s helping around the house, picking up toys, reading a book, being kind to siblings. And she’s rewarded with points or money that turn into something the child is interested in: a trip to Disneyland, a Nintendo Wii, a doll, new shoes for summer.

Another mom helps her seven and nine year old by being very involved in their schooling by reading together and helping with school projects. It’s important to establish those habits now, because when the children get a little older, she’s going to start a program where they can earn money for good grades.

It’s a good idea to help kids see the connection between money and the things they need for everyday living. Take them to the grocery store and instead of paying the bill yourself, give your child the money to hand to the checker. Or pay cash at the drive-through window of your favorite fast food place and have the child hand over your money.

Utah Central Credit Union has a program called Critter Crew. It’s for young children from newborns to 12 years old. It makes saving money fun. Every time a child deposits money in his account he gets a punch on a punch card and when the punch card is filled he or she gets a prize. They can also earn discounts passes to kid-friendly places, stickers, an annual party, a birthday card and a “save, spend, share” money box. So it’s a good idea to check at your bank or credit union to see what type of program is available.

Piggy banks never go out of style. Having a piggy bank in a child’s room reminds them on a daily basis that if they put money away, they can either save for the future or get something they need now.


For more information on how to open a Critter Crew account for your child, you can contact Utah Central Credit Union. They has several locations and the closest one can be found by visiting their website, www.utahcentral.com.

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