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Helping Kids Understand Money: What Parents Can Do

If you are the parent of a grade-schooler:

  • Give your child a piggy bank, or open a savings account for him or her. Explain the meaning of saving money.
  • Let your child make small choices about what to buy with his or her own money.
  • Talk with your child about advertisements and TV commercials. Ask, "Why do we buy things?" and help your child to understand how we decide what we want.

If you are the parent of a middle-schooler:

  • Help your child to open a savings account, and to understand how to use it.
  • Explain what a budget is, and help your child to create one for himelf or herself.
  • Talk with your child about the basic ideas of managing a household. Let your child sit with you while you pay bills if he or she is interested.
  • Find interesting books for kids about money.

If you are the parent of a high-schooler:

  • Sit down and have conversations with your child about the real cost of life after high school. Share what you know about rent, mortgages, car payments and saving for retirement.
  • Be sure your child knows the pitfalls of using credit cards. It's easy for a young person to get into trouble with overspending and high interest rates.
  • Suggest to your child that he or she take an economics or financial literacy class in high school.
  • Keep an eye on your child's spending habits. Do you know where the money comes from, and how much he or she can afford to spend?