Young Americans Bank: Teaching Colorado Kids How to Manage Their Dollars & Cents

February 25, 2015

After working hard to get yourself on solid financial footing, you may be asking how you can get the money conversation started at home.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Many parents and grandparents dance around the topic of money and wonder how to bring it up and when to get started.  It’s important to know where you child or grandchild is in his or her development, and remember that every child learns at a different pace.  However, there are suggested ages for when children should learn to walk, talk, count, and spell, and personal finance is no different. There are lots of concepts to grasp, and it can be difficult to know when a child is ready to tackle one.

It’s important to remember that young people may be ready to take on an aspect of finance well before his or her peers.  A great example of this comes for young business owners.  They need a business checking account and perhaps and business credit card well before their peers are ready to handle — or even need — a personal credit card.  So be sure to address your child’s needs individually.

However, here are a few general age guidelines designed to help all parents know when to introduce a new financial concept:

Ages 0 to 3 — Start the conversation

Ages 3 to 5 — Open a savings account

Ages 5 to 8 — Understand how choices impact cash flow

Ages 9 to 11 – Participate in the process to earn, spend, save, and share

Ages 12 to 15 – Open a checking account

Ages 14 and up — Credit, loans and investing

Did you know that the only real bank in the world JUST for young people exists right here in Colorado?  It’s called Young Americans Bank and it serves more than 16,000 kids from across Colorado and the United States, providing a safe, real-life experience in banking and personal finance.

In 1987, Bill Daniels founded Young Americans Bank as the world’s only bank designed specifically for young people 21 and under.  He believed that America had the best financial system in the world and that everyone – young and old – should have access to that system.

The Bank’s success was overwhelming and soon requests for programs, tours and presentations poured in from teachers and parents.  To fulfill those requests and support the community’s interest in growing a financially savvy generation of young people, Young Americans Center for Financial Education was established.  You may be familiar with this nonprofit that delivers educational programs for youth of all ages to enhance the bank’s financial mission.

The Center’s programs include:

Young AmeriTowne – a hands-on lesson in free enterprise that allows 5th grade students to run their own town of 17 businesses. A 34-lesson curriculum is integrated into daily school work to prepare students for their roles in Young AmeriTowne.

International Towne – a one-of-a-kind program that introduces middle school students to the financial realities of the global marketplace and, after weeks of classroom lessons, allows them to run a “world” of 16 foreign countries.

Founding Framework -- an in-depth, project-based curriculum to expose students to the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship. Regardless of whether the students pursue the business as an endeavor outside of class, the skills and experience will translate to personal success.

The Builders Lab, Young Entrepreneurs Marketplace, Running Your Own Biz and Be Your Own Boss summer camps, and the Celebration for Young Entrepreneurs business competition offer entrepreneurial opportunities for youth to learn and experience the ins and outs of owning a business.

Summer Camps and Money Matters classes provide a variety of financial lessons and activities to engage and educate kids of all ages.

Since inception, more than 600,000 youth have benefited from holding accounts at the Bank and participating in the nonprofit programs of the Center.

You can get lots more information on personal finance, including resources and guidance on having money conversations with your children and grandchildren at www.yacenter.org.

This post was written by Katie Payer, the Vice President of Communications for Young Americans Center for Financial Education. Would you like to submit a guest post to The Dime? Email us at dimecontact@copera.org