Learning about finances at a young age is key to making sound financial decisions in the future
Boston, MA – March 20, 2015
Learning about finances at a young age is a key component to making smart financial decisions in the future.
Despite this, studies show that a majority of young people struggle with financial literacy in the U.S. Just 17 states require personal financial classes in high school, according to a survey by the Council for Economic Education.
April is Financial Literacy month, and national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has a variety of resources to ensure that children of all ages learn about finances, budgeting and how money impacts their daily lives.
“Financial education is key to economic stability and success, and kids are never too young to start learning about money, budgeting and saving,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “While extensive financial education resources are available, too often they aren’t included in students’ learning environments or school curriculum. This has lifelong financial consequences. If we want our kids to be smart financial adults, we need to introduce these core concepts at a young age.”
Preschool through Grade 2
Parents should introduce the concept of money to children in pre-Kindergarten. Preschoolers can learn to identify, count and sort different types of coins, while kindergarteners can learn how much different coins are worth. First and second graders can begin to determine how to use the fewest number of coins to achieve different amounts, and whether they have enough money to purchase items at various prices. Second graders can also learn to make change.
Make learning about money fun. Start by turning everyday activities into an opportunity to explain what money is and how it is used. For example, during a trip to the grocery store parents can compare food prices. And the next trip to the ATM is an opportunity to make sure your child understands that money must be earned and does not just come from a machine.
Grades 3 through 6
As children progress through elementary school into middle school, they can begin learning about smart money choices. Distinguish between needs – items such as food, shelter and clothing – and wants – things like toys and candy. Money is earned and children at this age can be introduced to the concept of budgeting – particularly if they receive an allowance, get birthday cash or gift chards, or money from chores.
Introduce a budgeting worksheet that lays out sources of income and expenses so that children learn what money is being earned and spent. At this age, the concept of saving – putting money aside now to be used later – becomes important. The next time your child receives a birthday check, take them to open a savings account and explain how their money can grow due to interest.
Grades 7 through 12
By the time children reach middle and high school they are old enough to understand and utilize the concepts of earning, planning and saving. Most kids at this age begin to earn money, whether through a summer job, babysitting or other work. With this new income comes opportunities for budgeting and savings. It is important that kids keep track of their spending and know where their money is going each month. Explain that a portion of each paycheck should be put directly into a savings account.
Children should set SMART financial goals by deciding what they are saving for and how much they are going to need. SMART financial goals include being:
- Specific: What exactly needs to be accomplished? Who else will be involved? Where will it take place? Why do I want to accomplish this goal?
- Measurable: How will I know I’ve succeeded? How much of a change do I need to make? How many accomplishments or actions will it take?
- Achievable: Do I have, or can I get, the resources needed to achieve the goal? Is the goal reasonable for me? Are the actions I plan to take going to bring me success?
- Realistic: Is it worthwhile for me right now? Is it meaningful to me? Will it delay or prevent me from achieving more important goals? Am I willing to commit to really achieving this goal?
- Timely: What is the deadline for reaching the goal? When do I need to take action? What can I do today?
Once kids get SMART about their goals, they can develop a detailed budget, utilize a bank account, and learn about what it means to spend and borrow smart, without getting into too much credit card debt.
Pre-college and college students
As children begin thinking about college and life post high school, their financial needs become more pronounced. During this time, it’s critical that students learn in detail how to choose a bank, credit card, and overall preparation for their financial futures.
Students thinking about college should learn about various scholarships, how to earn money while in school, and apply the financial lessons they’ve already learned by finding ways they can save money on textbooks and other college expenses. For more detailed information, students can download the ACCC Financial Workbook.
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- For information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.