A heartfelt thanks to all of you who wrote to express your sympathy on the death of my mother (www.kiplinger.com/columns/drt/archive/2008/dt080409.html). Some of you also reminisced about the financial lessons your own mothers taught, and I'm happy to share your stories.
From reader Bill Nievera: "My mom is 82 years old, and I am reminded on a daily basis of my financial education, at a very early age, while sitting at her kitchen table.
"When I was just 16, she and a branch manager of a local bank sat me down and explained consumer loans, then proceeded to write a loan for a Vespa motor scooter, which Mom co-signed. That loan was paid off six months early.
"My entire childhood was filled with sage advice on the benefits of saving that seem to have paid off for my wife and me. We have been married nearly 40 years and have a daughter who has received her financial education at our kitchen table in much the same manner.
"All the while I can hear Mom saying, 'If you can't afford it, don't buy it.' Or, 'Do you really need that?' Instruction doesn't get much simpler than that."
From my Kiplinger colleague Joan Berne: "Your mother sounds a bit like my mother, who always insisted that we write thank-you notes and encouraged us to save. (Remember those cards you'd get from the bank to save dimes and nickels?)
"My mother is 96, and though she's been slowed somewhat by a recent accident, her eyes still light up at the thought of getting a bargain. And she can remember the price she paid for everything."
From reader Jenifer Foley: "My mom, too, taught me how to save and how to buy, and I'd like to pass along an interest in money and saving to my grandson, who will be 13 in October.
"I have already asked my daughter about giving him something money-related. Should we open a savings account for him at an online bank?
Or buy him a small certificate of deposit? They are stationed on Okinawa and there is a bank on base. I'd like to do something that he could watch online. Thanks for any suggestions."
Any of those is a great idea, although a savings account would give you more flexibility than a CD. You could open an account with an online bank such as ING Direct, HSBC Direct or Emigrant Direct.
Or have your daughter check with the bank or credit union on base. Local banks or credit unions are often kid-friendly, offering perks or educational materials to encourage young customers to save.Your grandson would probably like to plug numbers into a compounding calculator (bankrate.com/brm/calculators/savings/delay_savings_calculator.asp) that would show him how fast his money can grow at different interest rates.
Janet Bodnar is deputy editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the author of "Raising Money Smart Kids" (Kaplan, $17.95). Send your questions and comments to [email protected]