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The Great Debate: Kids and Money Matters

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The war wages on over whether personal finance should be taught in schools or at home.

To date, only 13 states require a personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement, according to the Council for Economic Education. That leaves many students in the dark about personal finance unless their parents take an active role in teaching financial responsibility.

While you can’t change school legislation you can take an active role in educating your own children. Don’t wait, start the conversation with your kids!

The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, created Money As You Grow in a down-to-earth language for children and their families. The site provides 20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons—with corresponding activities—that kids need to know as they grow.

Your children will benefit from different  financial lessons throughout their formative years; here are just a few you won’t want to miss.

The Younger Crowd

Once your children are old enough to count, you can start teaching them about money. There are tons of resources available to help you start the conversation and even make learning about money fun.

Start with:

1. Stacking coins. Have them stack up piles of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and count each one. 

2. Giving an allowance. Give them a small weekly allowance so they get used to handling dollars and coins. Talk about the choices they make when spending their allowance. After all, an allowance is a miniature version of a monthly household budget. In both cases there’s not enough money to buy everything you want, so you have to make choices about what’s most important.

The Older Crowd

As your children get older their ability to comprehend more complex financial situations improves. Make sure you are exposing them to basic money concepts and how to handle them.

Check writing.

Teach your children how to write a check, record it in the register and balance a checkbook each month. It’s a basic component of financial literacy that will last a lifetime. Even if paper checks disappear in the future, your children still need to pay their bills, record their transactions and balance their accounts.

Explain credit.

You can educate them about basic concepts, like minimum monthly payments, interest charges, late fees and outstanding balances. 

Teach them to save.  

Buying a home, going to college or saving for retirement are long term financial goals. Most kids and some adults have the, I want it and I want it now mentality; explain how to save for the long term and how it will take years before the goal is reached.

Don’t keep them in the dark.  

If your family is experiencing financial difficulties, explain the situation to your children and tell them the steps you’re taking to improve the situation.

Your children learn from watching you, every action you take and even your attitude towards your finances is on display for them to see. Make sure you take the time to explain money matters with your children and model those “good” behaviors for them to see.

They’ll be out of the house before you know it and you want them to be confident money managers.

What have you done to teach your children the basics of personal finance?

Suzanne Cramer, Social Media Specialist for CareOne Services, Inc. Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor® for CareOne Services, Inc. and is a Social Media Specialist. Suzanne supports the Ask the Expert forums as a coach and writes for A Straight Talk on Debt. 

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  • Great recommendations, Suzanne.....and I really like the "Money as you grow" link!  Going to check it out further this weekend!

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