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Popular Kids' Program Creates an Early 'Interest' in Savings; Washington Mutual's Schools Savings Program Teaches Youngsters Money Management Habits

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 26, 2004--School is just around the corner and gearing up as well is a popular bank program offered by Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) and designed to encourage an early 'interest' in savings habits and money management skills.

Launched over 80 years ago, Washington Mutual's School Savings(R) program has taught hundreds of thousands of youngsters nationwide the importance of saving. Currently, more than 214,000 children at more than 1,200 schools are learning the value of saving through the program, which offers a weekly 'Bank Day' at participating schools where students can make their deposits.

"By learning to save at a young age, kids gain an early appreciation for the basics of money management," said Amy Lee, Program Manager in community marketing at Washington Mutual. "Ultimately, we are teaching sound money management skills designed to last a lifetime. In fact, countless customers who grew up with the School Savings program and are now adults have later enhanced their financial future with CDs, money-market accounts, and other products. This program benefits our customers, our communities, and our company."

Washington Mutual retail banking stores (branches) offer the program nationwide and help parent groups such as PTAs to be sponsors. Once a week, 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. The interest earning savings account is FDIC-insured and is free for students up to the age of 19.

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 other fun items.

"It's gratifying to see students learn the value of saving," added Lee. "They bring in hard-earned chore money, quarter by quarter, dollar by dollar. Eventually, it's like a light goes on in their minds when they realize that deposits can really add up."

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 financial center. Teach your kids to review
        deposits entered and interest earned on their quarterly

    --  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.

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 June 30, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $278.54 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at

    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878
             Lisa Lucas, 206-377-6201

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual