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having a bank account

(continued from Creating a Budget)...

Now that you have a plan for how you’ll save your money, you’ll need to decide where to save it. Up until now you have probably been keeping your money in a piggy bank or another safe place in your house (maybe even in your parent’s bank account). Once you start receiving checks or larger sums of money, it may be a good time to open your own checking or savings account (if you aren’t 18 yet, you will most likely need the help of your parents or guardians to open a checking account).

Benefits of a checking or savings account


Money in the bank is better protected against loss or theft than it is at home. And if the bank has financial troubles and goes out of business, your FDIC-insured money will be fully protected.

More ways to save

Banks offer several different ways to save money and earn interest, which is what banks pay customers to keep their money in the bank. It’s also less tempting to spend your money if it’s in the bank rather than in your room.

Easy access

There are many ways to send and receive money, from going to the bank to writing checks or using the Internet from home. Some banks even have “branches” at schools. If your parents ap­prove, you also may want to start using a debit card to make purchases. It looks like a credit card but you won’t pay interest or get into debt, because the money is automatically deducted from your bank account.

Just remember, if it is a savings account you are opening, you don’t want to be taking money out, only putting it in. A certificate of deposit (CD) might be a good option for your long-term savings account. It enables you to earn a higher interest rate the longer you leave the money untouched in the bank. This would be a great way to start your college savings. They often require a larger amount of money (i.e. $1000) to open. Ask your parents if they will help you out. Maybe you can put $500 in and your parents can match you by putting in $500. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Which type of bank account is right for you?

For your everyday checking or saving account, you want one that:

  • Takes very little money to start
  • Charges low fees or no fees for having the account

Shop around from bank to bank to find the account that suits you best. Different banks and different accounts have different fees, features, interest rates, and opening balance restrictions. Some banks even have special accounts for teens that have parental controls on withdrawals.

Important tips for using your bank account

  • Record every withdrawal and deposit
  • Look at your bank statements every month and report any errors
  • Avoid any fees, such as penalty fees for going below your minimum balance or usage fees for withdrawing money from other bank’s ATM machines

Never share your bank account numbers or passwords with friends or strangers. Not even your best friend or your significant other.

(continue on to Spend Smart)...

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