BOSTON (CBS) – April is National Financial Literacy Month. I think we need more than a month to learn about financial principles. That said, let’s start with teaching our kids.

Kids don’t know enough about money. According to a recent study by, overwhelmingly, parents feel it’s their responsibility to teach their kids about money and savings yet they are not actively doing it.

Most grownups don’t know enough about money! Look at the financial mess we are slowly digging ourselves out of. People took out mortgages they could not afford. They invested in risky stuff. They were fooled by con men!

And every day our kids are exposed to instant gratification and a society that values million dollar athletes and very expensive shoes.

Kids need to learn about money. They need to know where money comes from, how it gets earned, spent, and saved. For the most part, there is not enough money education in the schools. I once thought that the ideal time to start teaching money skills would be when the kiddo was in first grade.

Having a grandchild has made me re-think that theory. My granddaughter at 3½ understood that I give the cashier at Walmart either my credit card or money and I walk out of the store with a cart full of stuff, some of which is going to be hers. She doesn’t understand credit, but she does know about the magic card I carry.

When you have children the money lessons need to start before they get on that kindergarten bus!

And currently there is nothing mandated by law here in Massachusetts. There are some states that require kids get a financial education and 17 states require personal finance instruction incorporated into other subjects.  All of this is on the high school level. We need to start much younger.

Here in Massachusetts we do have a voluntary program for elementary school kids in grades 3-6 titled, “Savings Makes Cents”.

The State Treasurer’s office provides a curriculum for a banking program for elementary school children which focuses on the ABC’s of money management. It is voluntary on the part of the school so if your school isn’t using the program talk to the principal, the superintendent and school committee.

The program gets schools and banks to work together to teach children basic monetary concepts, including how to open a savings account, the origin of money, and basic budgeting skills. Saving Makes “Cents”, partnering with over 170 financial institutions, is now in over 400 schools across the Commonwealth.

So should there be a mandatory curriculum for financial education in our school systems here in Massachusetts? I think so! We are not giving our kids the practical life skills they need to function in the world. We teach them to read, to write and how to add numbers but we neglect an important life skill, money management. We should be teaching money skills to kids as early as Kindergarten!

One more thing:  The new “Teaching Your Kids About Saving and Investing: A Guide For Parents ” section of The Alliance for Investor Education website features the following resources for consumers:

  1. Investing ABCs: Teaching Your Children About Stocks – AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy.
  2. Gen I Revolution – Council for Economic Education.
  3. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Planning for College Expenses – CFA Institute.
  4. Tips for Teaching Students about Saving and Investing – Securities and Exchange Commission.
  5. Teach Your Children – Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
  6. The Basics of Saving and Investing – Investor Protection Trust.
  7. Cover the Basics Before Your Child Leaves the Nest – National Endowment for Financial Education.
  8. Great Minds Think: A Kid’s Guide to Money – Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.


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