Teaching kids about money


Janet Bodnar's article, Financial Milestones for Kids, has some good ideas for sequencing financial education from preschool through early adulthood. It's nice to see that many of us are thinking and writing about financial literacy for children. It's been a long time coming back.

I particularly like Bodnar's suggestions for preschoolers. She suggests a light-handed touch, teaching children the different coin values, letting them put coins in vending machines, or choose a present at a Dollar Store. It was nice to see the return of the old piggybank idea as well. It makes me wonder whether there is a good children's picture book about money.

Bodnar suggests an allowance beginning at age 6-7, a savings account age 8-9, adding responsibilities and an increased allowance and teaching investing basics at age 11-12, a job and ATM card at 14-15, a checking account at age 16-17 and a credit card application at age 21. I think it's important to put these ideas out there although I think the specifics vary from child to child for a variety of reasons. Financial Milestones have a similarity to developmental milestones. Child development is individual and often uneven. Give two six year-olds a $2 allowance and you will likely see very different attitudes toward the money. More important, I think, than a specific sequence is using the information that you get watching the child to understand where they are and what kind of coaching will benefit them the most.

Your child may be able to fathom investing basics even before the age of 11, may need and be able to manage a credit card (with a low limit- $500 maximum) by freshman year in college. Bodnar doesn't mention entrepreneurial endeavors or my own favorite venue for teaching children about money -- yard sales.