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Kids and Money

Aug 28, 2010 11:21AM ● By Erin Frisch

Kids and Money

Five tips on teaching kids about money
By Rachel Friedman

In the coming decade, it won’t be enough to teach kids how to read and write. If they’re not financially literate, they’ll be lost. “It’s tough out there, and it isn’t getting any better,” says Vince Shorb, president of the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) (, a coalition of leading financial literacy experts and organizations. “I’m reading studies that are saying as many as 80 percent of college grads have to move back home after graduation. The trend is rising, and it’s not getting any better. Living independently is getting more difficult with each new generation of graduates, and one of the key problems is that we aren’t equipping these kids with a good sense of how to run their finances.” The NFEC offers some tips on how to teach children financial literacy.

Relate money to lifestyle. Today’s youth are not focused on just money. It’s what money allows them to do that motivates our children to pick up financial literacy skills. Uncover their personal dreams and find out how they want to live their day-to-day life. Then relate their aspirations to how having a financial education can help them reach their goals faster.

Help them recognize opportunity. When the economy is in bad shape is when many financially savvy people are making investments that will increase their long-term net worth. A practical understanding of market cycles gives them the knowledge of how to take advantage of future trends can have a profound impact on their life.

Have a savings plan. Getting your child, teen, or young adult in a habit of setting financial goals and saving money as soon as possible is an important financial literacy habit you can help them develop. Since today’s youth are comfortable with technology, it is highly recommended that you teach them to automate their savings and budget plans.

Build a solid financial foundation. Make sure your child has his checking, savings, Roth IRA, and brokerage accounts open as soon as possible (even if he does not have money to put into the accounts right now). People that have these accounts open are more likely to save their money and begin investing at a young age.

Explain the power of compounding interest. If you are over 60 years old, if you would have invested $100 per month in the S&P 500 index starting at 18 years old, you could be a millionaire now. Don’t you wish you fully understood compounding interest and how to take advantage of it when you were 18 years old?

“Let’s face it,” says Shorb. “The next generation will be without the advantages of pensions and Social Security to protect their futures. If we’re going to deny them those tools, we should at least teach them how to better manage what they earn. That’s why the NFEC was created, and that’s the mission of the organization.”

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