bank of mom

My parents taught me many things. They taught me how to play a guitar, they taught me how to fight with your spouse. They taught me that birth control is very, very important and that beating your kids up is not a good way to maintain a close relationship. They did not however, not even once, bother to teach any of us the value of a dollar. Savings was not a word ever uttered in our house. When I asked my dad if there was any money set aside for college, he literally laughed at me and said something to the effect of, 'You're really smart. Get a scholarship'. My mom was afraid of the bank and kept all 5 dollars she had every month in cash in a jar in the kitchen.

My husband grew up fairly wealthy. He had pretty much everything he ever wanted and never had to work for anything. He went to an Ivy League college and discovered the joys of AMEX. And then his mom lost her ass in the stock market. The cash flow ended and he was left, a twenty-something spoiled kid, left to trudge through the world of fiscal responsibility all alone.

I have no interest at all in my children repeating either of these scenarios in their lives. If I teach them anything at all, the three things that really matter to me are kindness, humility and good money sense. I hope they never know the word struggle. I hope they appreciate the value of a dollar (or looney) and I hope they feel the pride of money well earned.

And so we save. They have three chores to do every week

and upon completing those chores they get three dollars.

They each have a super-fantastic piggy bank to save their money in. The boys' come from a local potter in their grandma's small home town; L's came from my awesome friends on the day of her birth.

Every month they have the potential to earn $12. They have two choices; keep the $12 in the piggy banks and spent it as they see fit or put some of it away in the real bank. Most banks offer a young kids' savings program that offers a nice interest rate. Our credit union in Denver had a great one.

Here's how we sweeten the deal: Every month they can earn up to $12. If they keep, say, $6 and invest the other $6, I will match the $6 they invest. If they invest all $12, I will match all $12. At the end of a years' time, their $144 investment can become $288, not including interest. We do this because sticking your money into a bank where you can't hold it and count it is a hard thing for a kid to do. It takes a while to grasp the concept of that money actually being there, not to mention growing. Not many kids are too keen on giving their hard earned money to a stranger behind a counter, so my thought is that if they see the value I place in it by watching me double their funds monthly, maybe they'll realize that it's an important and safe thing to do.

B is an excellent saver. He has already accumulated $100 in his piggy bank alone, Which he counts every chance he gets. He will not believe us when we tell him he can skip the pennies. He counts it all. Out loud. He is really excited to open his new Canadian account and start investing it. T is a silent saver. He gets the change out of the couch cushions, he picks up every penny he sees on the sidewalk. They all go in his bank. B is really good at talking him into "sharing" his money, hence B's $100 to T's $30, but they seem to get the concept of saving. That's all I ask.

They are both saving for PSP's. I have the feeling they will both have enough for them by this time next year.