By Joe Birkestrand
We’ve all heard that it’s never too early to start saving, but First State Bank, which has branches in Webster City, Clarion, Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge, Humboldt and Stanhope, takes this old adage to heart and encourages children ages 0-12 in every community it serves to start saving, and they do it in a fun way: through savings clubs.
“Savings is huge,” said Emily Stockdale, personal banker representative and retail services manager at First State Bank. “(The clubs teach them) when you save money, then you can buy a car, go to college or do anything else that will help them benefit themselves when they grow up.”
Stockdale said the clubs are a great way to get children involved with saving at an early age, but also to help them build a comfort level with visiting a bank. A prize from the bank’s “treasure chest” that includes items like books, sticker books, jump rope, chalk, playing cards and more doesn’t hurt either.
“It’s fun for them. They get up there and deposit their money, and they know exactly where the treasure chest is,” Stockdale says. “And they run back there, and they’re so excited. It’s a good feeling for us too, to see that.”
The bank offers two kinds of accounts for children. The first is a Kids Club savings account. These accounts are limited to six transactions per month and a minimum of $5 is required to open the account. These accounts can be upgraded to a Dollars Savings account, which yield a higher interest rate but does not allow withdrawals until the child turns 13. A minimum of $500 is required to open a Dollars account. Stockdale says the higher interest rate that the Dollars accounts provide help introduce children to the benefits of saving their money because they can see it grow over time.
“(A Dollars account) is almost like a CD, just simply because you can put into it but you can’t take out of it until your 13th birthday,” Stockdale said. “At that time, they can roll it into a minor savings account, but a lot of times if they have a large amount of money, they will roll it over into a regular CD. It really helps them learn that it can grow quickly if they don’t touch it.”
Along with the treasure chest and learning the importance of saving, there are many other incentives for kids to join First State Bank’s savings clubs. They include invitations to community events like scavenger hunts, Christmas ornaments, local movie theater and pool passes, and a quarterly Kids Corner newsletter.
The newsletter is designed to get kids involved and active with the bank and their communities. Each quarter includes some incentive to encourage kids to visit the bank. For example, the summer issue asked kids to stop by the bank to guess the number of pennies in a jar. The child with the closest guess would win a free ticket to Adventureland. The newsletter also includes news regarding the savings accounts and activities like word finds and Sudoku puzzles. Parents aren’t left out of the newsletter though. A section called “Dollars & $ense” includes tips for parents to help their kids both earn money and learn to save.
On top of the tips in the newsletters, Stockdale said that parents have seen additional benefits. “Parents like the confidence that kids get from coming into a bank,” Stockdale said. “They’re not timid. They feel comfortable with their banks.”
The bank also hosted a scavenger hunt and grill out for club members and invited all members of the communities to attend. Future events the bank is planning include a movie night, where the bank will rent the local theater and host a movie for members of the community to watch. Stockdale says that the events and incentives help convince more kids to open the savings accounts with the bank when they see what their friends are getting through their membership.
“A lot of times, kids will ask their friends where they got the free pool passes or movie passes, and the kids tell them they just have to go into First State Bank and open an account,” Stockdale said.
Teaching children to save is important to First State Bank, because it helps ensure that the next generation will be able to sustain themselves financially. And Stockdale adds that the education the children are receiving is far more valuable than the savings they accumulate.
“We see it a lot where kids’ parents don’t have the ability to help them save,” Stockdale said. “I think education from a bank is one of the best things you can get if you don’t have that in your life.”