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News from the Nest: Never too early to learn about money

A few weeks ago my son signed his first legal document, at the age of 6. Sure he had to ask my husband how to spell our last name as he opened a savings account at our credit union. But overall it was pretty legible. I even made them give me a copy to keep as his first full signature.

My husband and I didn't realize how much money our son had laying around. This fall we found a wallet in his room with over fifty dollars cash! And when my husband decided to help our little guy count the coins in his piggy bank, he had almost as much.

So with his piggy bank in one hand and his Cars wallet in the other, my son strolled into the credit union like he owned the place. They opened his account with the money from the coins, though my husband admits he did need to spot the little guy a few bucks to get him over the fifty dollar minimum.

Shortly after they set up the account I arrived and helped him make his first deposit with the cash in his wallet. He had two twenties, a five and seven ones. He was going to put all of it in his savings; after all he is the son of financial advisors. But I encouraged him to keep the seven ones in his wallet, just in case he found something he really wanted.

Maybe I'm naïve but I think his savings account has helped him learn to appreciate money a little more. One day he and I went to Target where I usually let him pick out something in the dollar section. When I told him to go find something he replied "Nah, I don't need anything. I don't want you to waste your money Mom." I don't think I even replied I was so stunned.

Then a few days later he was counting his seven one dollar bills, again. He handed me one and said "here Mom, this is for you." I told him I was grateful but that it was his money and he should keep it for himself. I would have gotten tears in my eyes by his sweet gestures, but I quickly remembered no more than 10 minutes earlier when he asked me to buy him a new computer!

Teaching kids about money isn't easy, nor is it a one day lesson. Beginning now in early childhood all the way through college, and beyond, I'm sure I will continuously be trying to help our kids make good financial decisions. But it has to start somewhere. For our son it just happened to start with his first full signature and a Cars wallet. Next lesson; explain how many one dollar bills he will need for that new computer.