Our Teenager Gets Her First Free Checking Account

free checking accountOur teenage daughter recently got a weekend job (yay!), and she has started earning a few bucks to help her pay for the things that she wants. This is always good because a teenager can quickly bankrupt the parents at $20 a pop per event, friends birthday gifts, movies, pizza because just hanging out needs a few bucks too. (Sometimes you just have to say no. No!) Of course, I’m quickly learning that for her to keep her job and do the random babysitting job and keeping up with her sport’s schedule, it’s going to cost me more money for a car and insurance and gas for her. It always back to mom and dad’s wallet. So her job will help pay for the gas (maybe some of the insurance? fingers crossed) and all of the miscellaneous dollars she needs for movies and fun stuff.

A series of firsts …

The achievement of getting her first job is just the beginning of a series of firsts. This job will require her first car at some point. And it will also mean her first checking account. Of course, we had to sign her up for a free checking account at First Castle. I have explained many times the difference between a credit union and a bank, and I get the glazed over teenager face, but maybe she’s listening? A little? I guess if she never has an experience at a bank, she won’t fully comprehend the perks and benefits of joining a credit union over being a bank customer. The experience will spoil her, and one day if she ever decides to open an account at a big bank, she will come to appreciate the financial foundation her parents gave her by starting her banking baby steps at a credit union.

With her first checking account will come her first debit card. She hasn’t even gotten her card yet, and we’ve already had a few excellent conversations on credit vs debit and Rewards points and overdraft fees … so much great personal finance education! My dear husband has repeatedly said that the schools need to require every kid to take a personal finance class to learn the really basic stuff …

  • what is a checking account?
  • how do I balance a checking account?
  • what’s an overdraft fee?
  • what is interest? Etc.

free checking account at First CastleWe went to the credit union to open her free checking account this past Saturday. My dear daughter has school and then other stuff going on after school so our opportunities to get to the credit union before they closed during the week were limited. She had to work this past Saturday, so we had to get over First Castle Saturday morning, before work. (Thank you, FCFCU, for being open on Saturday morning!)

We walked in and we were greeted by three (three!) employees, friendly variations of “Good morning,” “Can I help you.” When we said we need to open a checking account, Bonnie helped us out and explained all kinds of good stuff to us. First, we made sure to bring our drivers license and dear daughter’s social security card. I had to sign on her checking account because she is under 18 and cannot sign a contract….and signing a check is a type of contract. Gee whiz. The stuff I don’t think about, so I’m glad that was explained. Glad we were prepared.

We had to decide if she wanted overdraft protection or not. Bonnie took her time explaining to dear daughter that if she goes to Subway, or the movies, or wherever, swipes her card, and there’s no money in the account, the credit union can cover it for her for a fee (a fee that’s less than that of the big banks) or her card could be denied at the checkout. We opted for the deny – embarrassing but it will save her meager checking account from an overdraft fee deduction.

Time for the first deposit!

She just picked up her first check Sunday night, and with that came the conversation about taxes and social security. Fun times! … But seriously, these are quality conversations. We plan to get to the credit union today between functions, so she can deposit her first check. Her first deposit! I could have easily run over there and deposited her check during the day. It would have made the most sense because we are so tight on time, but I really want her to deposit the first paycheck. I want her to fill out the deposit slip and for her to send it in the tube in the drive thru, get her receipt and all of that good stuff.

Bonnie told us we needed to wait 24 hours before we could get into our account online, so we still have to walk through it and set it up. These are great adventures in parenting, and the opportunity for teaching our kids about money is there. We have to teach these things now, so they grow into smart adults, making smart financial decisions, and doing smart things with their money.