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Opening a Savings Account: It's No Longer Child's Play

ONE of the nicest things you can do for a new grandchild is open a savings account.

You should know, though, that trying to do this for a minor isn't easy. And it isn't just because the savings account must have custodial signatures.

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It's difficult, I found out, because of those aggressive promotional efforts that banks are using.

See, to do a transaction, you have to run down and complete the whole deal.

Before I was given anything to read or sign, the nice young lady with her name and title set at the front edge of her desk wanted to know right then:

Whether I wanted the Pony Express mug or a see-through ballpoint pocket protector or the simulated saddle-leather cover for the register (where you keep track of your own transactions - the computer keeps theirs);

Whether I wanted the document-keeping service (I guess today's kids have lots of Uniform Gifts to Minors stock certificates) or the custodial homeowner's insurance policy that covered original-value theft, forcible-entry loss, fire but not water damage due to frozen pipes nor riot, sabotage, or war (see reverse for details);

Whether I wanted the desk calendar with bank closing dates in red or free custodial use of a half-inch high safety deposit box for two months and credit courtesy coupons (bank logo) worth $8 at the next Merchant's Day Street Fair;

Whether I wanted the free (for balances over $5,000) ATM card or a parallel money market account for myself that included free name-printed checks featuring colonial doorways, exotic birds of the Southern Hemisphere, Civil War firearms, flowers of the month on the Appalachian shield, or steam locomotives - most of which seemed to obscure the dollar-writing spaces;

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Whether I wanted either the custodial ID card with my picture or a plain bank card with the child's name (no picture) plus a $5 credit in the old Christmas Club - no withdrawl for 300 days.

I thanked the young lady.

THEN I went back to my home and got out a few of those old crinkled US Savings bonds that hadn't matured yet. I remembered they were in the tin box file behind the books on the second shelf.

Giving those to a youngster is a lot easier, even if he does have to figure out for himself when the interest is fully paid up.

Ralph Shaffer, a retired executive, writes from San Francisco.

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