Several south Santa Barbara County schools marked national Teach Children to Save Day on Monday.

Many high-level employees of Montecito Bank & Trust and other members of the community teamed up in pairs to visit first through 12th-grade classrooms. Among the participants were Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum; Chuck Slosser, president and chief executive officer of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation; Ernesto Paredes, executive director of Easy Lift Transportation; Janet Garufis, president and chief executive officer of Montecito Bank & Trust; Cathy Carter Duncan, the CEO of Duncan/Turner Acoustic Research and one of Montecito Bank & Trust’s board members; and Monica Trouve Sapp, the bank’s Valley Oaks branch manager.

Children were taught the importance of saving, how to plan for purchases and how to make their money grow. Older children learned how to make their money grow with compound interest, budgeting for things such as college and buying a car, and some credit card basics.

Nearly 1,000 children in 34 classrooms throughout 13 area schools participated. The schools included La Cumbre and Santa Barbara junior high schools; Hope, Monroe, Ellwood and El Montecito elementary schools; Marymount of Santa Barbara; St. Raphael’s; Bishop Diego High School; Crane Country Day School; Ceasar Chavez Charter School; Dunn School; and Los Olivos Elementary School.

In Santa Ynez, Dunn School’s sixth- through eighth-graders took a field trip to tour Montecito Bank & Trust’s Valley Oaks Bank branch, seeing the vault (and the money), going behind the teller line, and learning about banks and careers in banking.  Janet Garufis, president and chief executive officer of Montecito Bank & Trust, led a presentation called “The Money Talk” in the afternoon, speaking to 175 students in a Dunn High School assembly.

National Teach Children to Save Day is part of the American Bankers Association Education Foundation’s Teach Children to Save Program. Each year, thousands of bankers across the country trade in their balance sheets for blackboards to help fill the need for financial education in schools.

“Studies show that kids aren’t learning the skills they need to make smart financial decisions as adults,” Garufis said. “Communities and schools teach other life skills, such as driving a car, but we don’t spend enough time teaching financial skills. Bankers are in the schools today to help fill that gap and prepare future customers for financial success.”

The presentations included games and activities about the concept of saving, how interest makes money grow, how to budget and how to determine needs from wants. These tips were offered to parents to make every day “savings day.”

  • Help children open their own savings account and make deposits regularly.
  • Make going to the bank fun.
  • Children love to get mail, so encourage them to keep an eye out for their statements.
  • Talk to your child about the family budget.

Montecito Bank & Trust is a locally owned community bank founded in 1975. It is known for its ongoing support of the community through unique giving programs such as Community DividendsSM, which annually gives $1 million to more than 100 local nonprofit organizations. The bank has branch offices in Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Westlake Village, and a new branch in downtown Ventura.

Jonatha King is principal of King Communications.