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Question: I have two young girls, ages 3 and 5. My husband and I follow your advice, as well as that from other bloggers like Money Talks News and Dollar Stretcher. (I think those are our three favorites.)

But here’s the thing: We both grew up in families that declared bankruptcy a couple of times and still run up big bills on their credit cards, buying stupid things they can’t afford. I don’t want my daughters growing up to be like that. But what can I do?

When I search online for “how to teach your kids about money,” lots of advice comes up. But really, my kids aren’t going to do that stuff. Dave Ramsey said to “use a clear jar to save,” but I want something that’s not a gimmick.

What can I do, Howard? Please give me something REAL.

— Megan in Iowa

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Last month, I was interviewed on just this topic by the National Financial Educators Council, a wonderful organization. Here’s part of what I said…

I’ve never understood why schools teach economics but not personal finance. Or why we teach our children geometry but not compound interest. High schoolers learn about the broad strokes of capitalism versus communism, but they don’t know the basics of APR or what ‘debt-to-income ratio’ means.

If our schools aren’t going to teach the crucial skill of money management, then it’s up to enlightened parents like you, Megan. While you can do many little things to reinforce the value of money, one of the biggest things you can do is take your daughters to Junior Achievement when they’re old enough.

I’m a big fan of Junior Achievement — so much so I donate both my time and my money to its amazing programs. What does JA do? The nonprofit teaches by letting children learn by doing, starting as early as the third grade. When it comes to teaching kids about money, it’s one of the most important resources out there.

They can start their own mock businesses, learn financial literacy by visiting a virtual community, and even shadow successful business people on their jobs. Here’s how to find a JA near you.

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