Teaching Kids to Save: Q&A with Ben St. Romain
- Q: Around Red River Bank, you hear a lot about the Teach Children to Save Program. What's that all about?
- It's a program through the American Bankers Association. We probably do ten schools each year, reaching 600 or more kids in the 3rd and 4th grades.
- Q: That's a lot of kids to teach in your "spare time"
- We have about 18 employees of Red River Bank who go out and teach these one-hour sessions. I coordinate, but I also still teach.
- Q: Some of us haven't learned to save as adults. How do you get this point across to kids in just one hour?
- We tell the story of two brothers who both want to make a purchase. In the story from the ABA, they both want a snowboard, but that doesn't translate so well in Louisiana—I usually say they both wanted to buy a pirogue instead. One brother helps an elderly neighbor by cutting their grass and doesn't make much money. The other one works at an ice cream shop and makes good money.
- Q: And the difference between the two is saving?
- Exactly. We go through a three-month timeline with the kids. They have a graph and keep track of things the brothers chose to spend on as well as the amounts of money that were saved. At the end of all that adding and subtracting through the story, the students tell us which brother can buy that pirogue.
- Q: Does the lesson make an impression?
- It does. And it's always good to see the students who speak up to talk about something they are already saving for. You can sense the motivation when they have a goal to work toward.
- Q: What about the ones who haven't thought much about saving?
- It's a one-day teaching opportunity for us, but parents are in the position to make it a habit-building, ongoing conversation. Opening a savings account with a child is an important step, but it's those regular conversations that can turn saving into a habit. Just talking about what kids want to do with their money, helping them think through and talk through the things they want to buy vs. the things they want to save for.
- Q: Delayed gratification, in other words.
- Yes. Savings is an area where both the parents and the kids can see a pay-off in the long run. Parents invest in that regular conversation and kids begin to put money away. Over time, it adds up and both generations get to see how saving can become a lifelong strength and a family tradition.
Any teachers that are interested in scheduling a Teach Children to Save seminar for their classes can contact me or our Community Relations Officer.