BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – April is Financial Literacy Month, a topic many adults still struggle with. Experts say that deficiency starts early.
“We don’t talk to our kids about money because our parents didn’t talk to us about it,” said Nick Kilmer, assistant director of the Texas A&M Money Education Center. “We have to break that cycle.”
The Money Education Center teaches Aggies about money through advising, presentations, and even a 3-credit hour course.
But Kilmer reminds parents that, ideally, children should begin working on their financial literacy long before college. He suggests the following measures per age group:
Preschool – Start to teach your kids about delayed gratification (it’s good to wait before spending) and the different values of each of the coins and dollar bills we use. It’s also a good time to give them a piggy bank so they can learn to save their money in a safe place. On occasion, purchase your groceries with cash, and also show them your receipts so that they can see how much your purchases cost.
Elementary School – Let them start earning at home by working chores around the house. Help them make small financial goals (ex. buying a new pack of Legos) and then save up for it. Establish a savings rule for the money they earn and receive; spend half, save half. Maybe offer to match $0.10 for every dollar they save as an incentive and explain how interest works. Help them open a bank account, and teach them that saving leads to financial security and freedom.
Intermediate/Middle School – Help your kids establish intermediate-term goals (ex. buying an iPad) and teach them how to comparison shop at stores and online for the best prices. Teach them the difference between a debit card and a credit card and show them how to use an ATM. Let your kids pick a charity of their choice to dedicate a portion of their savings to.
High School – Give your kids their first debit card, and teach them how to make purchases at the store, and also monitor their bank account balance online. Help them start to budget their money each month using an app like mint or Personal Capital. Let them start working part-time so that they can save for college, and teach them the value of investing and compound interest.
If parents are still intimidated by this process, Kilmer suggests using resources from Junior Achievement USA, a nonprofit that “inspires and prepares young people for success.” And if you don’t want to teach them at all? The Junior Achievement Program also sends trained volunteers to local schools to teach kids about financial literacy. Kilmer suggests reaching out to them and requesting that they partner with your school to start teaching your kids about money.
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