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Death of a piggy bank

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It was time. Its days had been numbered from the moment she came home and said she had a weekend job. The piggy bank was going to be 'retired' in favour of her own bank account and a card. Not an EFTPOS card. No, she wanted a debit card so she could make purchases online.

As a parent we all go through these moments when you realise your offspring is growing up. But was I ready to relinquish financial control over her savings account (which was conveniently off-setting my mortgage!)? Was she ready to take on a transaction account with a debit card AND a savings account?

Some research was called for. She wanted to save half of her weekly pay (which may or may not have been received on the reverse side of a table in cash – lesson on the grey economy optional) and put the rest in a transaction account. So I sat down to look for bank accounts which would suit her without eating up her meagre savings in monthly fees or transaction fees. Fortunately my existing bank seemed to offer what we needed – targeted at someone her age.

I briefly discussed the options with her and received a distressed groan in response. "I'll have to learn all about 'money things' now!" "Well, yes. You will. And it's about time and why aren't the secondary schools teaching this?" were thoughts that flashed through my mind. Having been involved with financial literacy research in the past I realised that I was now going to have to step in and become the teacher.

I was impressed that she wanted to part with half of her pay into a savings account and put the rest into a transaction account. And explaining the ins and outs of how the money would actually transfer from cold hard cash to those accounts didn't daunt me. But the whole debit card issue was making me uncomfortable. At least it wasn't a credit card, I kept reminding myself. At the moment if she wanted something purchased online it was being done via my credit card, under my supervision. Now I'd have to trust her to spend her money wisely. But realistically I was already doing that when she headed off to the mall with cash!

So next, some lessons on safely shopping online are on the timetable! And a visit to the bank to set things up - thank goodness for banks that are open on weekends! We'll report back on how that goes.

And then there's the issue of what happens to the piggy bank. Bacon sandwich anyone?

Kate Sluka