What’s Out There For The Youngest Consumers?

Presentation_003We can talk about today’s kids wanting everything right away all we want. We can talk about young consumer spending power, how they are getting into debt with credit cards, how they are lagging in test scores. We can read studies or books (like this or this) to figure out how kids spend money or change their spending habits. I’m not sure how true any of our negative speculations would be.

First of all, kids are pretty smart. Just have a conversation with them. Today’s kids are more culture, media, and technology saavy then I probably ever will be. Second of all, is there any good literature or program out there for kids to learn about money? It’s a tough topic that can easily turn boring for any parent. I feel like if there was some great idea out there, I may have heard about it.

I’ve begun collecting links in a sidebar on this page linking to good resources for parents, teachers, or kids about money, personal finance in particular. Teaching someone (or yourself) to manage your money is like learning to do laundry: it’s part of having an independent life. That’s not to say kids should be completely on their own but think about if you would have known a little more about money when you started out… See what I mean?

I remember when I was about ten (see dorky picture above), I watching an HBO special about how advertisers make things look better then they really are. It changed my life, and that’s not an overstatement. To see the "tricks" advertisers did to make food look good or products seem cooler then they were changed my perspective. With this program and reinforcement from my parents, I learned to look for the small writing and developed a healthy skepticism. (I wish I could remember what it was called!) One article in my list talks about how to make even very young children aware of the messages they are recieving and more importantly, to analyze them.

Older kids can learn more by playing with money and understanding what it can and can’t do for them. I long dreamed of having virtual stock in high school economics but it never happened. I felt truly jipped of an American high school experience. But horray for the internet because if I were in high school now, I could play it on my own. Older kids can also learn good habits like paying bills and having a relationship with their bank (my bank knows my name and will gladly sit down and go over for a third time how a money market account works…yours should too).

Anyway, if you have a great resource, book, idea, blog post, article, anything about personal finance for kids, I’d love to hear about it. And if you have kids, what are you doing with them to instill good financial values? If you’re a kid, what can adults do to help you out?

Whether you have kids or not, I think we can all agree that as a society, we need to help enforce good money habits with the kids we meet and be an example. Because they may look a little nerdy now but someday they just may be the author of a financial blog you’re reading!   

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