Now that my 2 are getting older they tend to get less presents from friends and relatives at Christmas and birthdays, instead people tend to give them money or vouchers, which is always very gratefully received.
This way the can pick whatever game, book or cd they want, because let’s face it who can keep up with if Katy Perry or The Vamps are hot or not in the playground this week.
After a very lucrative Christmas for my pair where grandparents had been extremely generous, we finally decided that the piggy banks would no longer do it and it was time to open bank accounts.
I always had bank account when I was younger and although it was only 25p a week in my Abbey National Saving Stamps book (does anyone else remember those?) or 50p if you were feeling really flush. I was brought up to understand the value of money (my mum and dad were shop owners so I was expected to earn my keep as a Saturday assistant from an early age), and want my kids to be the same, I thought a bank account would teach them about the importance of saving some of your money and give them a sense of responsibility.
So after a look at my go to site Money Saving Expert, I decided upon the Halifax’s Young Saver Account, instant access, starts from £1 and with a good rate of interest (3% at present) it ticked all the boxes, it also claimed to come with a cash card for kids over 7, something my 8 year old was over the moon about (just as well it was only for cash withdrawals and not something he could link to his Clash of Clans account or he’d have blown the lot on a super fortress before you could say, in app purchases).
After an extremely lengthy process and extremely un-child friendly account opening process (no offer of refreshments or even a bit paper for the kids to scribble on) I was told that no there was no bank card with this account (contrary to what it still states on the website), nor was there a passbook or even a certificate, instead my account details were scrawled on the back of a business card and that it seemed was that.
So with nothing to show for their accounts not even a novelty piggy bank, the kids were understandably a bit deflated, in their eyes they had handed over their life savings and had nothing to show for it, they couldn’t check how their funds were growing in a book, at an atm or even online as this was a branch only account, surely the whole fun of saving for a child (and adults too) is to be able to see your little pot grow and dream of the day you cash it all in for the next must have Nerf Blaster, Monster High Doll or Michael Kors handbag!
I vowed to move the money to another account as soon as possible but after an hour or so’s research I found nothing to fit our needs, the few accounts that did offer a passbook or even online access had rates so low or conditions such as 1 withdrawal per year that made it pointless. The HSBC seemed to be the only saving grace, with a branch based account with a passbook, decent interest rate and yes even a money box on opening the account, the only problem was we have no branches within a 30 minute drive, so not for us unfortunately.
So we still haven’t found what we were looking for, I understand that banks are trying to move away from gimmicks but how are we supposed to encourage kids to save when there is no incentive? Most parents can tell you that children need to see their achievements, whether it’s stickers on a toddlers reward chart or marking off homework on a log, they are inspired to try harder by seeing what they have already achieved, the same logic works for saving, seeing your savings grow encourages you to keep adding to it. Maybe it’s time for the banks to go back to the classroom and find out what kids want, in the meantime we have a plan…
Thanks go to my Mum who invested in 2 little cash books which the kids can keep a track of the money in and out of their accounts, see banks it’s not that hard!