Home » Life Skills Wiki » Banking


Piggy bank and is stacked coins


A bank is one of many types of financial institutions that will handle your personal money. Checking and savings accounts are most typical but banks also usually loan money for big purchases and handle longer-term investments.

Skill Definition:

  • I have and use a checking and savings account.
  • I can write checks, use debit cards and balance a checkbook.
  • I can review bank statements to check for accuracy.

Key Learning Points:

  • Use a free, interest-earning checking account for your day-to-day spending needs.
  • Monitor all of your accounts every few days on-line, reconcile monthly and never overdraw.
  • There are many types of banks and accounts. Choose one that offers the services you need at a good cost and location.

Learning Path:

  • Develop an understanding of the financial services you need in your life. For this article, we assume minimally a checking and savings account.
  • Open a checking and savings account. Learn how to access their internet site to monitor your accounts.
  • Develop the habit of balancing your accounts on a monthly basis.

Deeper Topics:

  • Types of banks. Banks can avail you of financial opportunities like savings accounts and free checks, or they can cost you money and inconvenience in a myriad of ways including monthly maintenance fees to limited ATM availability. Source and further reading: How to Choose a Bank That’s Right for You on MoneyCrashers.com


  • Things to Consider When Choosing a Bank:
    • Full menu of services including checking, savings, loans with competitive interest rates.
    • Low fees and charges. Examples of fees…monthly usage, overdraft, minimum balance, late payment, ATM, bounced check.
    • Convenient locations and business hours.
    • Insured deposit (by FDIC – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).
    • Bank is a good corporate citizen, e.g. does it invest in your community.
    • Courteous and efficient service.


  • Types of Accounts/Products:
    • Checking accounts offer safety and convenience. You keep your money in the account and write a check when you want to pay a bill or transfer some of your money to someone else. Use this for day-to-day spending needs. Free checking isn’t always completely free.
    • Savings Accounts. When you are beginning to save, you should place your money in accounts that are as safe as possible. You will likely always have at least some of your money in short-term savings for periodic expenses and your emergency fund. The federal government backs these accounts with what is known as Federal Deposit insurance Corporation (FDIC) Insurance.
    • Money Market Account are accounts offered by banks that typically pay a higher rate of interest than a savings account.
    • CD or Certificate of Deposit holds your money for a set period of time with higher interest rates. Terms are typically one to six months, or one to five years. Unlike a normal savings account, you may not withdraw your money at any time. If you do, you will be subject to withdrawal fees.
    • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are good to save for your retirement. You don’t have to pay tax on the money you deposit in your IRA until you withdraw it. There is often a significant penalty if you withdraw your funds before you reach a specified age (usually 591/2 or older).


  • Protect Yourself from Wasteful Fees:
    • Maintain a “buffer” in your accounts to avoid overdrawing. Your emergency fund could be your “overdraw” buffer”.
    • Keep track of debit card usage in your check register. Monitor your accounts on-line to insure all transactions are your own. Overdrawing can be expensive.
    • Use ATM at your bank to avoid fees.
    • Be careful about “overdraft” protection.
    • Avoid check cashing companies.


  • Check Writing Guidance. Adapted from: How to Write a Check on About.com
    • Write legibly, add current date.
    • Ask who to make the check to (Pay to the order of).
    • Avoid paying to “Cash”.
    • Enter amount (keep numbers to far left).
    • Spell the amount.
    • Sign your legal name.
    • Enter a “memo” for record keeping.
    • Endorse only at time of deposit or cashing.


  • Balancing a Checkbook. Adapted from: How To Balance Your Checkbook by Deborah Fowles on About.com
    • Reconcile each of the following: checks, deposits, ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases. Check off each item on the check register and the bank statement. In particular, you are looking for items on the bank statement that are not in your register.
    • Record interest earned and bank fees.
    • List outstanding (not yet on the bank statement) checks and deposits.
    • Record your bank’s ending balance.
    • Enter outstanding deposits and checks.
    • Calculate your balance.

Balancing simply means to compare your bank statement with your check register. The intent is to make sure nothing is missing and that your personal records match those of the bank.

o   Activate the debit card with the bank where you obtained it from.
o   Make sure that you have enough cash in the account linked to the debit card to fund for your purchases.
o   Know the PIN number of your debit card.
o   Swipe the debit card through the card reading machine.
o   Check that your transaction has been approved.
o   Keep track of the purchases. 

  • Review Bank Statements Regularly (paper or on-line)

o   Are all charges correct?
o   Are all checks accounted for?
o   Did all of your purchases actually show up?
o   Advice: review on-line every few days. Download or get paper statement monthly (and balance checkbook).

Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:

Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):

  • na

Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:

  • If you do not have a checking and savings account, why not? Am I spending money for check cashing services?
  • How can I use a checking and savings account to my advantage?

Tools and Templates:

Word Definition:

  • ??

Web Articles/Short Stories/Essays:


  • None recommended at this time specific to Banking.



Faith-Based Quotes:

  • “Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?” – Luke 19:23

Other Quotes:

  • “Every day is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we’ve got 24 hours each.” – Christopher Rice
  • “There is a defined gulf between credit and character, if you doubt this, ask any banker; he will advise that character is nice but it is not collateral.” – Evan Rhys, Poems from the Ledge

One-Point Lesson:

  • None at this time.

 Related Skills:

Summary 2-page Lesson Examples, coming soon:

  • Money Management – Banking (handout).
  • Money Management – Banking (instructor notes)