DEAR HARRIETTE: I tried to give my niece money for her birthday, but she doesn’t have a bank account. She is 13 years old. I was shocked. I want to start an account for her, but I don’t want to offend her parents. I think she needs to learn about money and how to grow it. How can I make this recommendation without hurting my sister’s feelings? -- Open an Account
DEAR OPEN AN ACCOUNT: Out of respect for your sister, you can tell her that you want to give your niece the gift of a bank account. You can ask for her blessing in setting it up.
If you believe that your sister will not like it, you can still open an account and put money in it for your niece. You can open a 529 account, which allows you to save money for college tax-free. You can let your niece know about it or have it as a secret until she gets ready to go to college. Or you can take her on a date and set up a savings account with her and encourage her to add money to it.
Obviously it would be ideal for your sister to support the experience, but if your gut says that she will be skittish, your niece still deserves to learn about money and have her own. Because she is a minor, your name will have to be on the account as well.