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04/30/2008

Instilling Important Personal Finance Lessons

Children are exposed to the flow of money at an early age.

Literally everyday—even before they are able to speak—children observe parents opening up their wallets and shelling out money or swiping credit cards for meals, clothes, toys, books, movies, groceries, electronics, furniture and more.

They listen to talk around the dinner table about expenses. On TV, dollar signs flash across the screen, enticing them to buy the latest and hottest something or other.

By the time kids become teenagers, most are spending money on their own from a combination of an allowance, their parents or other relatives and personal earnings if they have a job. Yet most teens are completely unaware of how to manage money in their life.

In an effort to encourage good financial literacy and educate teens about becoming effective financial decision-makers, savvy consumers and sound investors, many states require that personal finance standards and/or economics are incorporated into classroom curricula.

According to the National Council on Economic Education--as reported in The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition website—the number of states requiring curriculum encompassing personal finance standards and/or economics have continued to rise over the past several years. Some states, in fact, have taken it a step further, requiring students to pass these types of courses in order to graduate from high school.

The goal is to educate this future generation on effective money management skills that will place them on the right path of financial responsibility and literacy. These skills encompass everything from learning to balance a checkbook to using credit cards, developing a personal savings plan, handling loans, choosing good investments, maintaining healthy credit scores, purchasing insurance, setting retirement goals and the basic laws of supply and demand.

Money Management Starts at Home

Personal finance education should begin at home.

The home environment is the perfect forum for parents to discuss and provide "real world" examples of their own successes and challenges with managing money, the importance of budgeting and saving, tips and tricks gleaned over the years and even specific details (if they feel appropriate for their particular child/ren) on the flow of money within the household. These discussions can cover household income sources, housing expenses, car and student loans, utilities, food, clothing, personal needs, entertainment, etc., as well as how the family budgets for emergencies, college tuition, vacations, home improvements and so forth.

By introducing personal finance and economics in the teen years, both parents and educators will provide kids with the tools to build solid financial footings to last a lifetime.

Lysa Allman-Baldwin possesses over 12 years of experience as a Freelance Writer. Her feature articles covering a wide variety of topics appear regularly in several print and on-line publications.





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