Assistant branch manager Sharon Logston helps Kacy Kidwell, 14, open an account at a credit union in Bowling Green.
For some people, a $25 cashier's check can be a first step toward career goals and life dreams.
Others are more inclined to think short-term and, well, invest in such things as iPods and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
"My sister's boyfriend's friend has one and it's pretty cool," Kacy Kidwell, 14, said of an iPod.
Kacy and a half-dozen others from a Positive Approach To Healthy Emotions class walked into the Bowling Green office of Glass City Federal Credit Union last Friday to open their first savings accounts.
It was just the beginning.
Complete all the requirements, the teens were told, and there's more money to come - $110 in all, from a $2,500 program sponsored by the Ohio Credit Union League and the Glass City Federal Credit Union.
For 16-year-old Erin Stine, it was an easy decision. The teen came to the credit union with another $25 she had earned for good grades, even after setting aside some money to buy Christmas gifts.
She liked the idea of getting her savings off to a good start. "I know that's important," she said.
The $2,500 program is part life-skills training and part fun, teachers said.
Thirteen Wood County students participated in the four-week program, which aims to help challenged teens learn more about managing finances.
The program taught teens to create budgets based on hypothetical careers and salaries.
They learned about child-are costs, utility payments, and unexpected bills. They learned to balance a checkbook and how to cover unanticipated expenses.
"It was shocking," said Miranda San Miguel, 17, who learned how to budget on a police officer's salary - a type of job she wants someday.
She was stunned how quickly expenses for cell phone service, cable television, and other such items added up. Her hypothetical salary was "gone just like that," she said.
Participants were handed the first of two $25 credit union checks recently. The second was waiting for them Friday when they walked into the offices.
They were required to put the first $25 in their account, but could pocket the other $25.
"The teachers have been stressing saving," said Kris Dusseau, manager of the credit union's Maumee branch. "But it's also Christmas and it will be hard. I look for the kids to deposit some of their money, but then take some of it, too."
As new customers, they may draw out funds as soon as they want. Still, the program requires them to save at least the first $25 check and the $10 installments until their class ends in May.
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