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December 7, 2011
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Flying the financial half pipe

VAIL - Luke Randall is a 15 year old Vail Mountain School sophomore learning that financial tools are basically wrenches you can spin to help you get what you need.

Randall is a Vail Mountain School sophomore and skis with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail's Free Ride team. He takes more flights and falls than the Greek economy - sticking with puns that actually apply.

He wanted new skis ... no, he NEEDED new skis. Two pair. The $1,500 kind, one for half pipe and one for slope style - and set about the time-honored method of procurement.

He asked his parents. He was very persuasive.

His mom, Mark Blackett Randall, is a local banker who understands how money works - or should. She explained, as only a loving parent could, that she'd split it with him. She'd buy one, but he'd have to buy the other pair himself.

"How will I do that?" Luke asked his banker mom.

She suggested a loan from Young Americans Bank. They've been around for 25 years and their one and only branch is in Denver.

Some local kids will recognize them. They're part of Young AmeriTowne, a lesson in capitalism in which kids try their hands at lots of different career ranging from media to medicine, accounting to auto mechanics, and get a quick look at life in the working world. Several local classes make the trek every year, including Luke's VMS class.

"My mom thought I could use some experience taking out a loan and paying it back," Luke said. "No one I know has done this. I thought I'd like to learn something, and I did."

So, they filled out the forms and submitted the application ahead of time.

Armada Pipe Cleaners are among the best skis on the market for the halfpipe, Luke says. It was worth going through this process.

"It's easier than I thought it would be and it didn't take as long as I thought it would take. Now I understand loan documents and how this works."

Young Americans Bank deals exclusively with kids. You must be 22 or under to have an account with them and they focus on education.

"It's all about the educational piece, so they can be smart consumers," says Katie Payer, who has been with Young Americans Bank since March, but had an account with them since she was a kid.

"If it takes 10 minutes at a regular bank to open a checking account, it takes 30 minutes with us," Payer said.

They do all the stuff that regular banks do: checking and savings accounts, CDs, loans, debit cards and debit cards. They explain everything, then explain it again as often as they need to, Payer said.

"Our average balance is $300. The minimum is $5," Payer said.

Mary Randall is a banker and had a repossessed van in her driveway when she and Luke were doing all this, so she knows about people's inability to pay.

Luke downloaded all the forms and applications, and they worked through them - one of those mother/son bonding experiences. When they were done, she drove Luke to Denver to go through all the paperwork with the bankers, including his plans to pay them back.

He has an allowance, Randall said, so that's part of his payment plan. He's selling some of his older gear on the website, newschool.com, in case you're in the market.

The money to make the payment has to be in his local account when his payment comes due, or he learns about late fees.

"They did a great job explaining how all this works," Randall said. "He has the skis and he'll be using them as soon as there's a halfpipe," Randall said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 7, 2011 12:13PM Published Dec 7, 2011 12:10PM Copyright 2011 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.