Should Your Teen Have a Student Checking Account?
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Want to help your teenager understand money and make them accountable for their own financial choices?

Help them open up a checking account, says Erica Sandberg, host of Adventures With Money podcast.

“The best way to learn is by doing — and the earlier the better,” she says. “Practice makes perfect.”

Parents can begin to teach their children about money while they’re very young by playing games and filling piggybanks. Once your children become teenagers juggling a part-time job, you can teach them more about how to manage their finances.

Whether they’re using their own money or yours, letting teens make purchases — everything from digital media and entertainment to personal care products and clothes — with their own debit card can help them learn about the importance of balancing expenses and that money is finite.

“They’ll learn the limitations that come along with shopping,” she says. “If they don’t have enough money in their account, they’ll learn when they need to work more, when to ask their parents for help, or to adjust their spending accordingly. That’s incredibly powerful.”

Sharing an Account With Your Teen

Depending on the state, you’ll have to co-sign on a student checking account for your teens under 18 or 19 years old, which allows you to keep tabs on your teens’ spending and saving habits. As the co-signer on a joint account, you’ll also be responsible for helping your teen cover fees, including overdraft fees.

While you should talk to your teen about potential risks, you’ll want to keep an open, honest, and ongoing dialogue with your teen about the checking account, Sandberg says. Ask how comfortable they feel using checks and a debit card and if they want advice to make their money go further.

As your teen learns how to manage his or her checking account and debit card, you may want to give them more freedom with their account to signify that you trust their judgment. Just make sure they know you’re there to help when they need it.

Additional Money Management Options

If a checking account isn’t the right fit for your child, prepaid cards are an excellent alternative for money management because they don’t need to be connected to a parent’s account.

Whether your child has a checking account, prepaid card, or just cash, consider opening a savings account for minors as an incentive for your teen to save money. Sandberg suggests offering to match what your child saves. For instance, for every $200 your teen deposits, match it with a percentage that fits your budget and encourages your teen to continue saving.

Giving your teenager the room to make mistakes now may help prevent bigger slipups later in life when the stakes are higher, Sandberg says.

“Plus,” she adds, “teens feel better about themselves when they know how to handle money.”

Whether you choose to open a student checking account with your teen or wait until he or she is in college, consider these additional ways to raise financially independent children.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.