Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taking Kids to Money School They Learn the Real Thing - Checking, Savings, Even Credit Cards

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taking Kids to Money School They Learn the Real Thing - Checking, Savings, Even Credit Cards

Article excerpt

Ask the children of the Denver area: Saving money and investing can be fun.

When 100 fifth-graders from Running Creek Elementary School stomp into Young Americans Bank in mid-April, they'll set foot in "YoungAmeriTown."

Like the proverbial Main Street, USA, it has a movie theater, town hall, food store, newspaper, investment company, and other assorted shops of modern capitalism. But it's really a classroom. The Denver bank uses it to teach kids how to save money, run a business, take out loans, and obtain credit. Not every town has a YoungAmeriTown, but in the 1990s, more and more financial firms are lending something valuable to children: insights into the basics of money management. Teaching youths about saving and investing is "definitely a trend," says Patti Boerger, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association (ABA), in Washington. Eager to do its part, the ABA has designated Thursday, April 2, as the second annual National Teach Children To Save Day. Last year, the event reached 125,000 children. About time! Americans are saving less than 4 percent of disposable income, one of the lowest percentages in the industrial world. A decade ago, the US savings rate was 8 percent. Saving and investing are two sides of the same coin. You can't invest unless you save; but saving is not necessarily the same as investing. Money left in a low-paying savings account can earn less than the inflation rate. So learning about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds literally pays big dividends. But the first step for children (and adults) is learning to save. The ABA urges parents and other caregivers to take the following steps: * When providing an allowance, make sure part goes to savings. * Have the child use a piggybank for savings and, when it's stuffed, open a savings account in a bank. * Go over monthly statements and bank records with the child. …

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