Local teens participate in Wells Fargo's youth banking and finance seminar

Brentwood students Mia Crannell, Payton Bradley and Emma Crannell, with Maryam Mohsenzada, a banker at the Wells Fargo in Brentwood, celebrate after a youth banking and finance seminar.

Piggy banks may seem like child’s play, but they are a great starting point for parents focused on instilling money sense in their children. 

Teaching financial responsibility to children, beginning at a young age, leads to good spending and saving habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. Local financial planners and advisors recognize the challenges and rewards of modeling prudent money management to children. They stress starting small by establishing modest goals.

“Both parents need to be on the same page with saving and spending goals,” said Dennis Park, of Epsilon Financial in Brentwood, who is a father of four. “It’s fun, but challenging in this affluent area. By teaching our children to save their allowances, gifts and earnings until they have enough to buy what they want, they will appreciate what they purchase much more and will often keep saving their money once the initial urge to buy some item has passed.”

He suggests multiple piggy banks for young children.

“I give my boys allowance in dollars and quarters and encourage them to put some in each of their (piggy) banks,” he said. “When the longer-term bank has enough in it, I transfer the funds to their bank. As young teenagers, they’ll want their longer-term savings for their first car, as they know they will have to contribute to that purpose.”

Michael Uadiale, of Smeed Financial in Brentwood, follows a similar path.

“I constantly look for ways to teach savings in everyday life,” said the father of three. “I emphasize determining wants versus needs. Buy what you need and don’t overbuy.”

Along with other local financial experts, Uadiale believes that an allowance for children should come as a benefit of doing chores at home or a parents’ workplace, and that a percentage of the amount should be put into savings.

“Both of my girls have been saving the money they receive for their birthdays,” he said. “They each want their own computer, and by saving for that, they are learning responsibility.”

When Uadiale learned about Wells Fargo’s seminars for teens, he enrolled his two daughters and a family friend in one of the sessions, which are offered three times on the first Saturday of each month, at the Brentwood branch on Second Street. The girls, who have been saving birthday cash and other gifts of money using their piggy banks, set up teen accounts and established savings accounts offered by the bank.

“These sessions are very popular,” said Monica Jimenez, local branch manager.

She explained that teen accounts come with a debit card.

“Parents can set specific limits on daily withdrawal amounts,” and both parents and teens have online access to the accounts, she said.

A free savings account is also established, which can also be converted to a college account when the child turns 18. 

Crannell’s older daughter, who is now old enough to babysit, plans to save half of her earnings and use the rest of it for walking-around money.

“Starting a savings account with a minimum of $25 gives a child a chance to learn about saving,” said Rita Murdock, branch manager of Brentwood’s BAC Community Bank. “It can be changed to a checking account when the parents believe the child is ready for that responsibility.”

The bank also has an investment department to help set up educational-savings accounts, an appealing option for parents already bracing for the high cost of college.

At the Brentwood Bank of America, Shayan Rahimi, financial center manager, also endorsed the minor savings accounts.

“The child is the owner and the parent is the custodian,” she explained.

Joint accounts can also be established, with the activity posted to both the child’s and the parents’ online accounts.