My sons, Alex and Michael, have been saving money since they were born. Alex is a born saver. That is, he really gets that it’s about the long-term and that if he saves today, he’ll have it tomorrow in spades. And, as long as he can get books he wants from the library (or convince Grandma or us to buy them for him at the local bookstore), he isn’t eager to part with his change.

I’ve always thought about Michael as my “spender” child. And it’s true — he often wants to buy things like candy with his money. But what’s also true is that he saves almost as much as Alex, and I think spending a little can be a good thing.

I was thinking about what kind of savers the boys have turned out to be because I went to the bank with Alex this morning and realized that he has managed to accumulate a lot of cash in his savings account.

One of the things we do to encourage the boys to save is to double (I’d LOVE that rate of return) whatever they put into the bank for long-term savings. So, if they deposit $100, we’ll add $100 and that puts them ahead by $200. If they want to take money out of the account, we’ll take back our contribution. So, if they take out $100 to buy something, we’ll take out another $100.

Doubling their contribution thing is working. So far, neither of them has taken any money out of the account. Whatever they are going to buy, they do it with short-term savings.

While the local bank has a lot of good things about its young savers program, the interest rate it pays isn’t as much as I could get from or some of the other online banks. Really, it’s time to take some of Alex’s cash and either open up a brokerage account or buy a CD or do something else with it.

Alex is smart enough about math to use the Rule of 72: If you have cash growing at 8 percent per year, it’ll double in 9 years, and quadruple in 18 years. If you have cash growing at 7 percent, it’ll double in about 10 years, or quadruple in about 20 years.

At age 11 (well, next month), he’s eager to get his cash working harder for him. As the summer winds down and with some birthday money likely to come in, I told him we’d work on ways to get his money working harder for him. The first thing I’m going to do is sign up for online access for his (and Michael’s) young savers accounts, which is now available at the bank.

I know a lot of my readers and listeners to the radio show want to know how to teach their kids to take the next step and learn how to invest, not just save. I think every child is a little different about money (hey, just look at us ‘Rents). So, we’ll be taking this next step together.

I’ll be sure to post our choices online.

For tomorrow’s show, we’ll be talking about reverse mortgages, the new Pension Act and what it means for 401(k)s (both new and existing) and a few other tidbits of financial information.

I hope you’ll join us.

Published: Aug 5, 2006