O’FALLON – As part of a national program designed to help kids develop savings habits early in life, representatives from First National Bank of Waterloo visited the third graders at St. Clare School on Wednesday, April 3.
The students learned about topics such as interest rates, debit cards and the basics of where money comes from. First National Bank of Waterloo’s Marketing Director, Laura Mergelkamp, said the most important message they are trying to teach kids is that it doesn’t matter how you save, but it’s important to start saving.
“This is a really fun program to be a part of because, so often, kids have never thought about how the money in the ATM gets there,” said Mergelkamp. “You can see their wheels turning once we start explaining that their parents’ paychecks get deposited into the bank and then can be taken out of the ATM. It helps them realize that the money isn’t limitless.”
Mergelkamp said the program also focuses on teaching kids to make smart financial choices on a daily basis. Mergelkamp uses a ‘money tree’ to explain how every financial decision they make requires them to make a choice between saving and spending.
“I often use cereal as an example. Kids usually want to pick the one with the really pretty box but they don’t think about the fact that it costs $2 more than the same cereal in a different box. It’s a good visual for them to see how quickly the money goes depending on the choices they make,” said Mergelkamp.
First National Bank of Waterloo’s employees travel to ten schools throughout the Metro East speaking with kids about financial topics. The program reaches more than 800 students each year and continues to grow.