Are kids today financially smarter than previous generations?

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What would you rather talk to your young children about? Sex or money?

A new poll says parents overwhelmingly would prefer to talk about money: “77 percent believe that money is the easiest to explain to their child, compared to other topics kids inquire about such as where babies come from, death, and even politics.”

The poll was co-sponsored by one of my favorite organizations, Junior Achievement. As I’ve written before, I’m a JA donor and volunteer because it teaches school-age children about money through hands-on projects.

The poll quizzed 500 children ages 7 to 10 and their parents on a variety of money-related questions. First, the depressing results…

  • “33 percent of the young respondents haven’t been taught how to get or earn money”
  • “41 percent haven’t been taught how to spend money”
  • “47 percent have not learned how to give money to help people”

It gets worse. The children were asked why adults deposit money in banks. “Only 25 percent know you can earn interest on savings.”

This is where it gets weird. While I’ve been campaigning for years for schools to teach financial planning, the JA poll reveals, “77 percent of parents feel the best place for children to learn the basics of personal finance is at home.”

It may indeed be the best place, but it’s obviously not happening.

In fact, the only encouraging results are from the children, not the parents.

“When it comes to money, kids as old as 10 admit they still have a lot to learn,” the poll says. That’s stunning and wonderful — because in more than two decades as a financial counselor and educator, I’ve run across dozens of adults who stubbornly refuse to admit they have a debt problem.

Yes, I’m saying a 10-year-old just might be more self-aware of their financial shortcomings than a 40-year-old.

If parents think their children will be bored by a money discussion, this is an encouraging stat: “55 percent of kids say they are excited when adults talk about money.”

The reason might be simple. If parents aren’t talking to their children about money, at least they’re rewarding them with money: “82 percent of kids earning an allowance for doing chores, getting good grades, doing homework, and simply being kind to others.”

I wish these parents would listen to Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA.

“The message to parents is simple,” he says. “It’s never too early to teach your children the short and long-term rewards of saving and spending money wisely.”

We all want what’s best for our children. So take Kosakowski’s advice…

As adults, it’s our responsibility to help children feel less confused and more motivated about money. Simply helping your child open and manage a bank account to save for something specific such as pocket money for an upcoming vacation or even college is a great way to help kids learn to achieve financial freedom and excite kids about money, especially when they see it accumulate.

This might seem odd to say, but if you truly want to bond with your children, you can do it just as easily at the bank as you can at the beach or Disney World. I beg you to try it.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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