Students at Donald E. Schick Elementary School had a chance to cash in on all their questions about banking during a visit from representatives of Susquehanna Bank, who spent time Friday teaching first- and second-grade students about the value of saving and the concept of wants versus needs.
Arline Brumbaugh, customer representative at Susquehanna Bank's Loyalsock Township branch, said children often are unaware of the importance of saving money - an idea that comes in handy down the road.
"Especially today, you find that kids don't have the concept of saving," she said.
Brumbaugh and her colleagues led students through a lesson that explained basic financial concepts in child-friendly language. The subject was "Patty's pet hamster" - kids needed to help Patty decide whether or not she has enough money for a hamster and all of its necessities.
"We're going to see if Patty can actually afford this hamster," said customer service representative April Buck as she helped the students fill out a worksheet at the front of the room.
Students made a list of items Patty would want to buy along with the hamster, and then were told to separate the "wants" from the "needs." Items like food and bedding were placed under the "needs" column, while items like a hamster sweater were identified as "wants."
The students helped Brumbaugh and Buck add up the cost of the items and found that it was more than the amount of money Patty had saved.
"If Patty doesn't have enough money, what can she do?" Buck asked the kids.
Students quickly piped up with several suggestions, from doing chores around the house to mowing lawns, washing cars or babysitting. One student even suggested Patty get a loan from the bank.
This led into a conversation about saving money.
Sandra Steiger, assistant manager, told students that money placed in a savings account will gain interest.
"The bank will give you interest on the money you put into the bank," she explained. "It makes your money grow."
The lesson was followed by a question-and-answer session, and students had questions about many aspects of banking.
"How do they get all that money?" one student wanted to know, while another student asked "How much money is in (the vault)? A million?"
Buck told the students the bank serves 80 to 100 customers each day.
"There is a lot of money in the vault," she said. "We have a lot of customers every day and we need enough money to cover everyone."
Several students expressed worries about bank security. Students wanted to know how the bank protects itself from counterfeit money and how it is protected from robbery.
"At our bank and all banks, the security is very high," Brumbaugh reassured students.
One student asked whether customers have to use code names in order to protect their identities at the bank.
"No, we call people by their real names," Buck said.
The session ended with a chance for students to shake hands with or hug "Buck" the moose, the Susquehanna Bank mascot.