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The Money Messenger -- Financial Literacy for Kids and Teens
April 01, 2010


Welcome to Issue #029 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

Welcome to April - a month that includes April Fool's Day, National Kite Month and National Pie Week. More importantly, though, it's National Financial Literacy month in the U.S. It's a great way to learn new money skills or brush up on other ones whether you are focused on younger kids, teens or your whole family. So, even if you are still checking out last month's articles on saving and investing, this month's focus can give you a nice refresher on the basics of financial literacy.

A reader's question on how to teach financial literacy to a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old at the same time

Helpful links and resources

What's new and what's next?

Note from Jennifer

The April showers have been showing up in our area earlier than normal. It's playing havoc with the spring sports seasons - and schedules. Of course, it beats more snow and it may bring May flowers a little earlier too. Changing seasons on the outside can also mean a change in the money seasons.

Money seasons? As the weather warms, how we spend our money (and maybe even earn it) will be changing. I think of that as a money season. Soon, we'll be figuring out what the summer looks like, what camps or vacations are on the schedule and how that will all fit into the family budget.

National Financial Literacy Month can provide a basis or great reminder for getting and keeping your finances in order as you get ready for a change of seasons whether it's on the calendar or in your personal budgeting categories. It can also be a great way to use new tools for teaching kids about money or money management for teens.

Feature Article
Building Financial Literacy In Kids and Teens

How often do you hear that financial literacy lessons should start young? As with most things - whether a foreign language or basic health lessons - teaching basic money skills at a young age can set kids up for success throughout their lives.

But where to get started? can depend on your child's age and how they learn. The great news is that there are a variety of great resources that will appeal to nearly all kids no matter what their preferences and learning styles. Here are just a few options.

Whew. That's quite a list and it is may be just the beginning. The first key is to find which one (or ones) really make your kids and teen want to learn about basic money skills.

Once you have that, you can use that to find other resources that are similar to keep the learning going and financial literacy growing.

Feature Article
Financial Literacy for Families

There is quite a bit of focus on kids and teens needing to learn basic money skills, even if there is disagreement about whether that job belongs to parents or educators or some combination. Just like most areas of life, I believe that this is a joint responsibility. Schools can teach the basics (just like in math) but it is really up to parents to teach kids how to apply those learnings to real-life.

One great way to accomplish this is to approach financial literacy as a family. That can mean a variety of things depending on ages and where everyone is in their financial education journey. Here are some ideas across the spectrum to consider.

  • Play The Grocery Store Challenge with kids that are five and older to get a sense of what things cost and that you can't buy everything you want - even if it is food.
  • Visit the FTC's website on being a smarter consumer as a family. There are a number of interactive pieces that can teach everyone quite a bit about being a smart shopper. I certainly learned a few things.
  • Have each family member figure out their how they think about money and compare notes. Use this quick quiz for kids and this one for everyone else. Understanding how each of you thinks about money can help all your future conversations.
  • Follow the 30 Step Path to Financial Freedom as a family. Each day has a new activity that will help you create a healthier financial future day by day.
  • Take the next step into investing by creating a family investment club. When you are ready to start dealing with real money, a great way to learn about investing with real money is to set up an investment club with your family, including extended members or in the neighborhood. The Motley Fool's Investment Club information is a great place to get started.

Using any of these ideas - or even some combination - can be a solid way to get your family on the same financial page. Plus, it can be a great way to increase everyone's financial education.

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Cinda wants to know the best way to teach her kids some key financial literacy concepts. She has a 5-year-old and a ten-year-old and would like to teach them at the same time. Is this possible?

You bet.

First, it is a great idea to teach your kids as many money skills together as possible. And, that's not just to help you keep your sanity. Kids will learn not only from you but also from each other. The younger child get the advantage of seeing the activities of the 10-year-old while the older kid can also help teach the 5-year-old. Each of these things, in a different way, helps the kids learn more skills more solidly.

In addition, some of the best ways kids learn is through watching what their parents do and also having the "lessons" really just be part of the daily life and household routines. When you have kids of different ages, this can be even more important as it helps you have one overall financial education plan instead of two (or three or four...). To do this, consider these ideas:

  • Use weekly grocery shopping as a way to teach budgeting and money-saving ideas. This Grocery Store Challenge game can be done with both kids.
  • Include your kids in your next online shopping venture. As more and more purchases occur through an online merchant, online shopping with kids is a great way to get them versed on what to look for when they can't actually see or touch the item.
  • Consider different levels of the same online game based on their ages. Many online games have three different levels: easy, medium and difficult. Lemonade stand games often have this feature and it's a concept that kids are already familiar with.
  • Start a family savings program. You can start a family bank that stays in a central location with everyone chipping in each week toward a family goal. At the end of each week, each child can have a hand in counting money saved, charting progress towards the goal and coming up with new ideas on how to save.

These are just some ideas to get you started. Once you get started, I'm sure you'll be able to come up with ideas on your own. What about other readers - do you have ideas that could help Cinda? Send them to me via this form or via email at

Useful Resources for You

While strives to provide all the information you need to help educate your kids, teens and family on money matters, there are other great resources to help you. This newer section of the newsletter highlights those that I've found that provide solid, understandable and usable information.

  • Financial Soccer is an online interactive game for both kids and parents to test their financial skills at three different levels.
  • is focused on teaching college and high school age students key financial concepts in a "dynamic game-based medium." Some of these concepts, though, can work for younger teens who know the basics (and honestly, it's an entertaining way for parents to get some help too). If it's not offered by your school, you can get an individual version for $14.95 (a savings of $35 off the normal price).
  • is courtesy of the American Bankers' Association and come just in time for Teach Children to Save Day on April 27th. This site has great information for the whole family even though it's focused on kids and savings.
  • The teen section of has great resources for teens wanting to start their own businesses - just in time for those teen summer entrepreneur ideas!

What's New?

Be sure to check out the latest blog posts at the site. With a new post nearly every day, there are lots of quick bits of information that might be just what you need.

Plus, there are new pages this month on

Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger

May is National Teen CEO month as well as including some great holidays like Mother's Day and Memorial Day. With the teen job market remaining a bit questionable and summer getting ready to start, next month's issue will focus on keys for kids and teens starting their own businesses. If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at

Talk to you soon!

Comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using this contact form.

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