6 Strategies for Raising Savvy Savers

Zions employees share their tried-and-true tactics for teaching their own children about money.

Nicola McIntosh Apr 16, 2018

This month, Zions bankers will head into hundreds of classrooms across Idaho and Utah to teach financial lessons to 6,500 students in honor of the American Bankers Association’s National Teach Children to Save Day outreach program.

But what about when those bankers go home for the day? What lessons are they teaching their own children? We interviewed five employees — with children ranging in age from 5 to 17 — to glean their best tips for how they teach their own children to be savvy savers.

Banker tip #1: Money is earned, not given.

One piece of advice was unanimous from our bankers. They make their children earn their money — they don’t just hand it to them — from doing chores around the house to holding a part-time job.

To pay for summer camp, Nampa Financial Center Manager Scott Thompson’s six children engage their entrepreneurial spirit, growing fresh produce in the summer and making homemade donuts that they sell door-to-door.

Nathan and Olivia Magleby, the children of Central Utah Retail Lending Manager Amy Magleby, earn a weekly allowance for accomplishing their chores, and they can earn extra money by taking on additional jobs. 

Nampa Financial Center Manager Scott Thompson’s kids — Connor, 14, Kaylee, 12, Lily, 10, Will, 7, and 5-year-old twins Ruby and Sophie — sell produce door-to-door to fund activities like summer camp.

10-year-old Aiden Squires mows the lawn and cleans up after the family dog to earn spending money.  Dad Neal Squires, manager of the Eagle and Chinden Financial Center in Boise, says Aiden is saving the money to purchase his own lawnmower to start a lawnmowing business.

Banker tip #2: Spend wisely.

As the sole breadwinner for his family of eight, Thompson and his wife, Tawni, know how to stretch a dollar. Now they’re imparting their thrifty ways — like driving used cars and shopping at Costco — to their six children who range in age from 5 to 14.

“We talk about money as a family. If we’re going on a trip, they’re aware how much tickets cost,” Thompson says. “We recently talked about going to Disney and ended up not going because just to walk into the park was $2,500. We ended up going to San Diego to Legoland, Sea World and the Zoo.” He says the kids were well aware that one of the reasons they were going to San Diego was that it would be less expensive.

Amy Magleby encourages her children, Nathan and Olivia, to shy away from impulse buys. “If they want to use a portion of this spending money from their savings, they have to make a case to me for why they want to use it,” Magleby says. 

Aiden Squires, 10, is preparing to launch a lawnmowing business. For now, he practices his skills on the family yard.
Nathan Magleby, 7, loves to ride the skateboard he purchased with his allowance.

“For example, Nathan wanted to buy a skateboard. He asked me for several weeks if he could use some of his money and I made him tell me the reasons why he wanted it and how he was going to take care of it,” she explains. “I made him wait to make sure he really wanted it and it wasn’t just a passing thing. He loves that skateboard.”

Banker tip #3: Save!

Nathan and Olivia Magleby split their weekly allowance three ways, with a portion for savings, a portion for their church and the remainder to spend on what they want. Scott Thompson encourages his children to save at least half of what they earn, but notes that most of them just save all of it.

Kortney Baca, daughter of Eagle and Chinden Financial Center Personal Banking Officer Nikki Vasquez, direct deposits every paycheck that she receives from her part-time job at Fred Meyer, so “it will just be in (her account) instead of having it in her hands,” Vasquez says.

Kortney earmarks $25 for savings every pay period. She’s responsible for paying for gas for her car and “extras” like prom.

Banker tip #4: Understand debt repayment.

At 17, Kortney is learning at a young age what it’s like to borrow and repay money after her car broke down. 

Kortney Baca, 17, works part-time to pay for her car and “extras,” like prom.

Her mom, Nikki Vasquez, a personal banking officer at the Eagle and Chinden Financial Center in Boise, helped her find a new car with the condition that she would get a part-time job to help pay for it. They bought the car through a family friend, who established a monthly payment program for Kortney.

“We wrote up a contract for her to sign, and she had to put so much down,” Vasquez says. “We’re holding her accountable and making sure that she sticks to that contract.”

Banker tip #5: Be creative.

Isil Hessick’s children are pretty typical tweens: Ozan, 12, loves video games, and Arya, 10, likes making slime. But paying for those hobbies can be tough on the wallet, so their mom got creative.

She instituted a point system that allows her kids earn money for things they want by doing extra chores. For example, unloading the dishwasher earns 2 points. Reading for an hour, 5 points. Playing for an hour without fighting? 10 points. For every 5 points, they earn $1 credit. Points are tracked on a large whiteboard.

Ozan and Arya Hessick proudly display the points they have earned by doing household chores, and by being nice to each other.

For this single mom, the system has been life-changing. “This way, I don’t even have to tell them. I come home, their beds are made, the dishwasher is unloaded,” says Hessick, who works on the bank’s video marketing team. “I feel like we found something that we all agree on for the first time.”

In addition, she says, it’s helping her budget, too. “I don’t have to pay for things instantly,” Hessick says. “I can see how many points they earned and what kind of budget will I have to have for them at the end of the month.”

Banker tip #6: Learn delayed gratification.

Weekly trips to the grocery store have sparked conversations about delayed gratification for Amy Magleby and her children.

“Like most kids, they want all the candy/treats/toys they see,” she says, “so we talk about how we spend our money and if we buy those items we may not be able to do fun things later like an upcoming family vacation or a movie.” She says they also talk about the importance of saving for and attending college so that they can get good jobs to support themselves eventually.

While these bankers are doing their part at home, they also give back to their communities as part of Zions Bank’s ongoing commitment to teaching children of all ages the importance of saving money and using credit wisely through the Teach Children to Save and Get Smart About Credit national outreach programs. We also offer Young Savers accounts, and the Zions Pays for A’s program, which rewards middle school, junior high and high school students for good grades.


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