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From: Ann
Starting A New Bank Account

January 2000

Hi, readers, and happy 2000! Like the members of the BSC, I enjoyed baby-sitting so much that I probably would have done it for free. But the good news is that baby-sitters get paid for watching their charges, and a good baby-sitter can make a lot of money over the course of the year. For those of you who have finally reached the age when you are regularly asked to baby-sit, it can be a pleasant surprise to see how much more quickly money accumulates than when you were only receiving a weekly allowance. I was ten years old when I started my first paid job as a mother's helper, and it marked the beginning of a profitable and rewarding baby-sitting career!

One thing I've noticed is that kids often have very different ways of handling their new-found earnings. Some of my friends couldn't wait to go shopping and spend all their money as soon as they had it. Others were very disciplined and saved every dollar they made. I like to think that I found a good middle-ground when I opened my own bank account in junior high school. (Actually, I already had a special savings account that my parents had opened for me when I was very young. I put birthday and Christmas gifts from grandparents and other relatives into this account to save for college.) Now all or part of my baby-sitting earnings could be deposited directly into my new account.

I really enjoyed having the responsibility of managing my own money. Because of the bank account, I found I was more likely to save a larger amount of my earnings. Once the money went into my wallet, it meant that I had decided that it was available for everyday purchases. I also learned how to plan and save for something important that I wanted to buy. I am still very proud of my first major purchase. When I was fifteen, I saved all summer to buy my very own sewing machine. I used it for almost 25 years. With a goal, it's easier to avoid temptations at the mall, and it's actually fun to fill out the deposit slips at the bank and watch the savings grow.

If you like the idea of starting your own bank account, the first thing to do is call around to your local banks. Most of them have special 'kids' accounts' that do not charge monthly fees and are designed to encourage kids to become comfortable with the banking process. Next, it's important to have a talk with your parents so you can set some guidelines. For example, how much should be set aside from each of your baby-sitting jobs to deposit in the bank? What expenses should become your responsibility (for example, movie tickets or CDs)? It's also a good idea to get permission to save for an expensive purchase. When the day finally comes and you've saved enough to meet your goal, you can be very proud of yourself.

Believe it or not, managing your own bank account when you are young is great practice for becoming a responsible adult. As we get older, finish school, and begin our first job, it's important to know how to handle our salary. Without careful planning, there might not be anything left for important expenses. When I made the decision to quit my full-time job as an editor to become a freelance writer, it was scary to not get a regular paycheck. But because I'd been managing my own money since I was ten years old, I felt ready to take on the challenge!

Finally, since it's only the beginning of the first month of the new year, why not set a savings goal for yourself for the year 2000? Think how proud you will be in December when you can look at a savings passbook and say, "I earned this all by myself!"

Happy saving!