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Chicago's Socorro Sandoval School Students Celebrate Smart Savings All the Way to the Bank; Washington Mutual's Schools Savings(R) Program Teaches Youngsters Money Management Habits

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 2, 2005--Today, hundreds of young students at Socorro Sandoval School on Chicago's South Side are piquing their "interest" in saving and managing money through Washington Mutual's interactive School Savings program. Students gathered allowances, couch change and birthday money to deposit into their new interest-bearing savings accounts, which they will open today with the help of the bank, school educators and parent volunteers.

Launched over 80 years ago, Washington Mutual's School Savings program has taught hundreds of thousands of youngsters nationwide the importance of saving. Nearly 280,000 children at more than 1,500 schools nationwide, including nearly 60 schools in Chicagoland, are learning the value of saving through the program, which offers a regular "Bank Day" at participating schools like Socorro Sandoval where students can make their deposits.

To invigorate the financial literacy campaign at the Socorro Sandoval School, and raise excitement among the students for saving money, Washington Mutual bankers set up a mini bank branch in the cafeteria, complete with bank visuals and a Teller Tower, one of the trademark elements of Washington Mutual's unique retail banking stores. Washington Mutual entered the Chicago retail banking landscape in June 2003 and currently has 163 branches in the Chicagoland area.

"By learning to save at a young age, kids gain an early appreciation for the basics of money management," said Tony Manisco, senior vice president and group manager for Washington Mutual's retail bank in Chicagoland. "Ultimately, we are teaching sound money management skills designed to last a lifetime. This program benefits our customers, our communities, and our company."

Washington Mutual retail banking stores offer the program nationwide and help parent groups such as local school councils to be sponsors. Several times a month, parents and other volunteers help students with their banking at school then deliver the deposits to a local branch. Washington Mutual provides the opening deposit of 25 cents for each participating student.

After each transaction, students are given a receipt and are taught to record and track deposits in their own School Savings register. The bank mails savers a quarterly statement summarizing deposits, withdrawals and interest earned.

A variety of incentives keep students interested. For example, savers receive their School Savings Tracking Guide, which helps chart their savings progress toward fun surprises such as rulers, markers, water bottles and more.

Washington Mutual believes that it is important to use its experience with financial matters to help educate children about making the right choices as adults and customers. According to the Jump$tart Coalition, the average student who graduates from high school lacks basic skills in the management of personal finance affairs.

"As an educator, it's gratifying to see students learn the practical value of saving -- and be excited about it," said Dr. David Espinoza, principal of Socorro Sandoval School. "They bring in hard-earned chore money, quarter by quarter, dollar by dollar. As they see the deposits add up they begin to imagine how to use the money down the road -- for college tuition and books, a new car to get to their job, or even a great graduation vacation."

In addition to the School Savings program, Washington Mutual offers mini-courses in banking and finance for K-12 students. The workshops come complete with presentation materials and handouts. One popular kit is "Introduction to Money," which explains what money is, why we use it, and how to keep it safe. High school-oriented presentations range from classes on maintaining a checking account to credit management and other topics.

Washington Mutual offers these tips to encourage kids to save:

-- Give your young child a piggy bank. Children enjoy depositing coins and bills and learn that small amounts of money can add up to real savings. It's an easy and hands-on way to introduce the saving concept.

-- Open a free, interest-bearing account for kids at your local Washington Mutual retail banking store. Teach your kids to review deposits entered and interest earned on their quarterly statements.

-- Encourage youngsters to earn their own money, allocating part of their allowance or earnings for savings. One grandparent shared what she called her "401(k)" approach to encouraging her granddaughter to save. She matched dollar for dollar any amount her granddaughter saved.

-- Help kids set savings goals. A younger child might want to save for a favorite toy, while an older one might see the value in starting to save for a car or college. The whole idea is to teach your kids to defer spending now so that they learn the advantage of saving for a larger purchase later.

About Washington Mutual:

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At September 30, 2005, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $333.62 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,500 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamunewsroom.com.

CONTACT: Washington Mutual
Missy Cousino, 312-429-3059 (office); 713-594-9332 (cell)
Shane Winn, 312-429-3052 (office); 773-343-6802 (cell)

SOURCE: Washington Mutual