Money as you Grow. What should kids know about money?

The following post comes from the Military Saves Blog. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

May 31, 2012

By Andia Dinesen, AFC ®
Military Saves Coordinator

Kids and money.  Kids and finance.  Kids and saving. Kids and spending. These are things we should all be talking about with our kids, but when? How?  When to talk to your kids about money and how to talk to them about it can be overwhelming and exhausting.  What should your 3 year-old really know about money?  How about your 12 year-old?  Your 18 year-old?  Now, there’s a big challenge.

Once kids are in elementary school, they learn how much coins are worth, how to count them, adding, subtracting, making change; these are all important skills.  While sitting down and counting money with my 1st grader, I wondered.  She is learning the great skill of counting money; does she actually know where the magical coins in the sandwich baggie come from?  If I would have actually asked, chances are her answer would have been, “they came from your purse, Mommy”.  That is not really the answer, unless I also had a magical money-making purse (which would, of course, be fantastic!)

I have to say when I first saw the Money as You Grow interactive webpage at the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability meeting a few months ago, I was instantly interested.  I spent the rest of the meeting leaning over and stretching my neck out to see the screens with the mock-up of the website.  I thought, “Now, this is something I can use.”   Just so you know, I am a financial counselor and I am always talking to my daughters about personal finance, but I often wondered, how much is too much?  What is enough?  What should they really know by ages seven and nine?  I don’t want to spend time trying to shove concepts down their throats that they can’t quite grasp.  How tiresome (and boring), for everyone.

My daughters fall into the Money as You Grow 6-10 year old category in and so I took a look at the lessons and activities they provide for that age group. I was happy to find that I have been talking to them about most of these subjects; choices when you are shopping, comparing prices, and putting money into savings so it can gain interest.  I did find that I had not yet breached the subject of sharing information.  Not that I don’t think that it is an important subject, it just didn’t cross my mind.  After accessing this site, I am ready to do the activities involved with sharing, or in this case not sharing information and the dangers involved.  Also, I am excited to see what dialogue this starts between me, my husband, and my daughters.  This is a conversation I am now itching to have.  I love to see what they know; which brings me to the next section in this blog.

What a Nine-Year-Old Knows about Savings
When I brought my nine-year-old daughter, let’s call her ‘M’, to work on “Take your Daughter to Work Day” the team here at America Saves decided we would “hire” her to do some research for America/Military Saves.  Her assignment: What does a nine year old know about savings?  She came up with the questions and started off with her project (which she was more than happy to take on.) Of course, she has an advantage, with a Mom that won’t stop lecturing her about the importance of saving, but we thought she could interview her classmates as well.  Here are the results of the first interview.
How do you use savings and why?
M said: I save my money with an envelope I put some of my money from chores in there.  So I have money for my goal.
Her friend, P (also nine years old): I would keep my savings by doing chores and stuff and, you know I save it in my piggy bank.  So I can buy stuff I want and things for the needy.

More articles on youth saving:

Banking to Save for College
Getting Teens Ready to Face Huge Financial Events
Savings Options for Children and Teens

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