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3 tips to teach kids about money

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

While kids may be learning the ins and outs of biology, literature and geography at school, new research looks into the need for parents to provide personal finance lessons outside the classroom.

In coordination with National Financial Literacy Month, online and mobile coupon provider RetailMeNot recently asked more than 1,000 adults about their own financial habits and their approaches to teaching their children about money management. The results show that 92 percent of people feel that parents are responsible for teaching their kids about money. There is just one glaring problem: The majority of them do not feel confident in their financial knowledge.

If you are hoping to help your kids learn about money, here are three helpful tips to be a better teacher.

1. Education should start early.

Talking about money doesn't have to wait until your kids can actually talk.

"You can start educating your children about money as early as 2 or 3 years old," says Trae Bodge, senior editor of RetailMeNot's "The Real Deal." "At that age, they can start to differentiate between coins."

As they mature, Bodge recommends the tried-and-true piggy bank to spur savings habits. It seems that these tools have progressed since I was 5, too. Bodge highlighted one particular bank that allows kids to divide money into spend, save and donate categories.

2. Take them to the store.

Sure, you may prefer to not deal with pushing your kids around in the grocery cart, but your shopping needs can help translate what they're learning at home into a real-life setting.

"A lot of parents want to leave their kids at home so they can get their shopping done quickly, but there is so much you can teach kids at the store," Bodge says. "Those trips present an opportunity to help kids recognize the savings between name and generic brands, the cost-saving capabilities of coupons and many other valuable lessons."

3. Show them the basics of banking.

Bodge recommends opening a savings account for kids between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. The account can serve as a place to park birthday money and additional cash the kids earn from doing chores around the house.

"As they approach adolescence, you'll want to help them explore more banking products," Bodge says.

That advanced financial knowledge will serve them well once a very important time arrives.

"There are so many kids who go off to college and don't understand the difference between a debit card and a credit card," Bodge says.

Looking for more advice on how to get your kids on a financially fit path? Find out how you should arrange their allowance.

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