There’s a tremendous community of personal finance content creators. I started blogging my own financial journey in 2006. I quickly realized other bloggers had the same idea: Take control of your money, and it will take care of you.
Nowadays, blogs might not be as popular to learn about personal finance as they once were. There’s a lot more content now. There are short-form and long-form video platforms like TikTok and YouTube. There are social media platforms like Facebook and whatever Elon decides he wants to do with Twitter/X this week. Podcasts are extremely popular.
All of these different forms of media fall under the umbrella of content. There’s only one awards show in the world of personal finance content. It’s not like television or movies with awards like the Emmys, People’s Choice, and Screen Actor’s Guild.
Raise your hands if you are having a great Shark Week so far? I know I am.
Kids love sharks. Especially baby sharks (do do do do-do-do). I hope kids are learning lots about sharks. Did you know that sharks can teach you about money?
I found a shark who will teach your kid (or you, if you are a kid) how interest works. I’ve got an easy job of putting just a few words of an introduction together. The great people from Nex Gen Personal Finance are doing all the work. I love it when I can work smarter, not harder. Thanks, Nex Gen Personal Finance!
A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for something unrelated on the internet and stumbled upon this gem from the Nex Gen Interactive Library. You get to play the “bad guy” as you try to maximize profits from all the delicious victims that enter your office looking to borrow money.
I made it so that you either click on the title or the image to play the game. It isn’t as easy as you think. I got a few wrong. I think it might be best for kids in the 4th grade or higher, perhaps ideally in the 5th or 6th grade.
I’m keeping it short today. It gives you more time for learning.
My ten-year-old thanked me for making him read the American Girl: Smart Girl’s Guide to Money the other day. I thought it was weird because he had read it last year. I only made him read it because he needed a “free read” for school at home and rejected so many of our other books. Even though it’s a book geared towards teenage girls, a 9-year-old boy can find value in it.
I probed deeper to find out why this is interesting now. It turns out that one of his school friends gets $12 a week for allowance. My ten-year-old only gets $5/week. This friend travels all the time – she spends more time at Disney World than Mickey Mouse. She has many opportunities to buy from gift shops where my son doesn’t.
My son remembered that the American Girl book wrote that asking your parents for a bigger allowance was fair. He knew that it was wise to mention her as a comparison. He wasn’t whining but just making a logical argument.
I said, “So you want to negotiate a bigger allowance? Let’s talk about it.”
One of the best parenting books about money is The Banks of Dad(Review). In that book, author David Owen suggests that the kids should apply for it in writing.
That’s exactly what I asked my son to do.
I’ve seen him write a few dozen sentences in a school paper on some fictional adventure. However, when it came to this – something that might impact him more – he mustered three sentences. They weren’t persuasive at all. He said that he’d do his summer reading. That’s no big deal. He’s supposed to do that. He even forgot to mention his friend’s allowance in the paper.
The sentence about doing his summer reading gave me an idea. His school gave summer reading “suggestions” – award-winning books in the last year. However, they wrote that anything that seemed interesting was fine.
So I thought, “He had a positive experience reading a money book. What if I give him a fun one that covers a little more? Better yet, I’ll create a whole ‘Fun Kid Personal Finance Course'”
I decided he could earn one dollar a week by reading Grandpa’s Fortune Fables and completing the code at the end of every chapter. Unfortunately, the code is like Wheel of Fortune, and he was able to complete it by the fifth chapter. I had to explain that finishing the book was the requirement – not the code itself.
He read it in a couple of days.
Complete the Money Time Kids Course
I reviewed MoneyTime in the past. In fact, my son, who was eight at the time, gave it a test drive. The course was designed for 10-14-year-olds, so it was challenging. He got through a few topics, and I got enough detail for my review, so we moved on.
MoneyTime has a total of nine topics. I decided he could earn a quarter for each “topic” in the course for a total possible earnings of $2.25. I only asked him to do the ones he hadn’t done before, but he misread my instructions and did them again, so it was reasonable to adjust my system to include that.
He got through three topics fairly quickly. It will be a little slower now that he’s back in camp. One benefit of this approach is that he’ll find the time if interested.
My other requirement was that after watching all the episodes, he would have to write a paper about what he’s learned.
My 9-year-old is now interested in negotiating an allowance. I want to sync them up, so they can watch this together and write a better paper together. I don’t know about this one because the writing ability of a pre-fourth grader is different than a pre-fifth grader.
He can earn $4.25 in allowance from these tasks, bringing him to $9.25/week. It’s less than his peer’s $12/week, but he could get more than he asked for because of…
Allowance Bonus: Compound Interest
After completing all the previous tasks, he unlocks a special bonus. By now, he should know the power of compound interest. Using the concept in The Bank of Dad, I’m going to pay him 1% a week. This is around a 68% annual interest rate. When he has $50 saved and gets an extra 50 cents each week for doing nothing, it’s similar to earning $9.75 a week in allowance.
It will cost me a few extra dollars each week – more than $200 a year with the compound interest bonus. Between the two kids, it might cost me more than $500. They’ll make money mistakes and they will learn.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a real life money story about my son using his debit card to buy some arcade games and candy for his friends. I guess this isn’t normal for a ten-year-old.
Today, I’ve got another money story. As you can tell from the title, it’s not quite as positive.
My kids love Guardians of the Galaxy. They love that it has the action of a Marvel movie, but also that it’s very funny. They also love the music, which is a big win for me. We were at Walmart picking up a few things, and my 10-year-old (the oldest) spotted a Guardians of the Galaxy magazine as we were going through the checkout. He grabbed it and said that I could subtract it out of his FamZoo account. It sounded good to me. I encourage reading over video games and YouTube any chance I get.
We got home, and it was late, so we went to bed. The next day we were both in for a surprise. I looked at the receipt and saw that it was $13.99. So I asked my son if he knew how much the magazine was. He said that he didn’t. I bet it wasn’t advertised very well outside of the little price in the lower-left corner. I don’t think many kids would know to look there for the price anyway.
The tragedy is that $14 at Walmart goes a lot way. You can get a decent toy and have money left over for a good amount of candy. While he loved the magazine, I think he realized that it wasn’t the best use of his money.
It was a great lesson, and it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t let my son control his money with the FamZoo account. By empowering my son to make money mistakes, he is learning. In a related story, I have an update on the $7 shark pen my youngest son bought in that article. He came home at the end of the school year with it, and it was broken. The shark’s jaws wouldn’t open or close anymore. I asked him if he thought he got $7 of value out of it, and he said that he did. Maybe it wasn’t a money mistake after all. Maybe he is still learning some of the costs of things.
A Chair For My Mother is a children’s book written and illustrated by Vera Williams. It is a heartwarming story of a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother, who work together to save money and buy a comfortable chair for their new apartment after losing all their possessions in a fire. The story highlights the importance of hard work, perseverance, and saving money to achieve your goals.
A Chair For My Mother Summary
The story is told from the perspective of a young girl who lives with her mother and grandmother in a small apartment. The family lost all their possessions in a fire, which also destroyed their apartment. They had to move to a new apartment, but it was empty and needed furniture. The mother worked hard as a waitress at the Blue Tile Diner, saving all the coins she earned to buy a big comfortable chair for their home. The girl and her grandmother also helped by earning coins and storing them in a jar. The family’s goal was to save enough money to buy a chair that they could all sit in and be comfortable.
The touching story covers the family’s journey and the many obstacles they face along the way. They persevere through hard work and grit. They encounter financial setbacks and difficulties in their new apartment, but they learn to work together to overcome them. The young girl also learns the value of community and how people can come together to help each other in times of need.
Kid Money Lessons
One of the book’s central themes is the importance of saving money. The mother works hard to earn coins she saves in a jar. The girl and her grandmother also contribute to the family’s savings by making money from various sources. The story teaches children about the value of money, the importance of saving, and how to work towards a financial goal. It is an excellent book to teach children about financial literacy concepts such as saving, budgeting, and earning money.
Finally, it’s possible to use the fire in the apartment as a warning of what happens when people don’t have adequate insurance. However, this topic may be too advanced for the book’s intended audience.
Reading Level and Awards
The book is appropriate for children in grades K-3. The reading level is approximately second grade, with simple sentences and easy vocabulary. The book’s illustrations are colorful and captivating, drawing the reader into the story and helping to convey the characters’ emotions. The book’s length is just right for young readers, and the story is engaging and easy to follow.
A Chair For My Mother has won numerous awards. The biggest one is that it is a Caldecott Honor Book. It also has won the Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association and the Parents’ Choice Award. These awards recognize the book’s literary and artistic excellence and its ability to engage and educate young readers.
A Chair For My Mother Read-Along
A Chair For My Mother has a few read-alongs on YouTube. This one seemed to be one of the best:
Other Books to Consider
Similar books to A Chair For My Mother include The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. These books also teach valuable lessons about resilience, community, and the importance of kindness.
I’ve been on a planned vacation for a little while. It’s the unplanned time before and after that made it so long since I’ve written. I hope to be back more consistently like I was last year.
Just before I left, my 4th-grade son was invited to a bowling play date with classmates. A great time was had by all. He even scored higher than I usually do (with guardrails) and got the confidence to try without guardrails. At least, this is what he told me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the play date.
He told me he bought his friends cards to play video games and a little candy (with the kids’ parents’ permission). He went over with his Famzoo card put it in the reader and typed in his pin. He’s bought about a dozen things with me, so it’s easy for him now.
He said the parents of the other two 10-year-old kids couldn’t believe it! I’m starting to think that I’m in the minority in wanting to teach kids money skills. Maybe other parents are busy with other things. In any case, that’s why I have this blog, and they don’t.
I was hoping that the other kids would ask their parents to be able to do it, and the parents would ask me about it. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive a call.
The whole event made me very proud. I always say that kids should be allowed to make money mistakes. It’s even better when they don’t make mistakes and spend their money to generously give to friends.
While we were on vacation, the kids bought souvenirs, carefully budgeting their money. My nine-year-old hasn’t gotten as much practice using his FamZoo card. I had forgotten the pin, but his older brother helped out. He has the benefit that I tend to do similar things for both of them at the same time because they are close in age.
In the future, I’ll look to share more of these real-life money stories whether they are good, bad, or ugly.
I’ve been watching The Parent Test on Hulu over the last couple of weeks. It’s pitched as a competition of parents with specific parenting styles to see which one comes out on top. This shouldn’t be a spoiler, but there’s a lot of “it depends.” My parenting style mixes almost all styles at one point or another. Most often, the parents praise the other parents’ style – the opposite of what you see in most “competition” shows.
The show puts parents and kids through tests to see how they do in certain stressful situations. In episode eight, there was one that caught my eye:
The $20 Hustle Challenge
The $20 hustle challenge is a test to see if your kid(s) could make $20 in an hour without their parent’s help. I KNOW my kids would fail. That is quite sobering, given that I have this website, and they’ve read a number of financial books. Most of the kids that passed this test ended up calling family, friends, or neighbors and asking if they could do something. In one case, it was baking them some cookies. In another case, it was washing an RV.
The successful kids had a mix of four or five kids of various ages working together. One only child was successful, but only because his father failed the test and guided him through the process of coming up with ideas.
I felt that much of the success depended on having a network to sell to. My kids sell popcorn for the Boy Scouts, which is similar, but not the same, as that’s a very controlled situation. We know a few neighbors well enough to try something like this, but I’m not sure my kids would know who best to go to. I imagine that they might try a Lemonade War style lemonade stand.
It’s an interesting challenge. Do you think your kids could pass? If they couldn’t do it in an hour, could they do it in a day?
If you’ve read a few basic personal finance articles, you’ll soon come across the power of compound interest. Often, an article will show that contributing a little money consistently from ages 25 to 35 and stopping yields a bigger retirement net egg than contributing from ages 35 to 65. It doesn’t sound like contributing ten years should be worth more than 30 years, but that’s often how the math works.
Whenever I see graphs like that, I think, “If starting ten years earlier makes such a big difference, imagine what starting 25 years earlier would do!”
That’s the rough idea behind baby bonds.
What are Baby Bonds?
Baby Bonds are government-sponsored savings accounts for newborns. The idea is that each newborn would receive a seed deposit from the government, which would grow over time thanks to compound interest. The funds in the account would be available for the child to use when they reach a certain age, typically 18 years old, for expenses such as education, buying a home, or starting a business.
The purpose of baby bonds is to promote financial stability and security for families, particularly those with lower incomes. The hope is that by providing a financial foundation for children, they will be better equipped to pursue their goals and overcome financial challenges later in life.
Baby bond programs are starting to be developed now. Each program has different specific details, such as the amount of the seed deposit, the interest rate, and the conditions for withdrawing funds.
Which States Offer Baby Bonds?
Starting July 1, 2023, Connecticut will be the first state to offer baby bonds. There are a lot of little details, so if you live in Connecticut, I recommend reading the official baby bond documentation. For everyone else just trying to understand how it works, the state will deposit $3,200 at birth into a baby bond trust invested by the Office of the Treasurer.
At age 18, a young adult can withdraw money to start or invest in a Connecticut business, buy a home, pay for higher education, or save for retirement.
The participating young adult must complete a financial literacy course to be eligible for the money. If you are reading this website right now, you will likely have no problem with that.
Typically the stock market returns 8% a year. Using the Rule of 72 (as explained here, the money should double every nine years. That means the $3,200 will likely double to $6,400 and then to $12,800 at age 18 – or $25,600 at age 27. In reality, it may turn less than that because I expect the Office of the Treasurer to invest in very low-risk investments. So I would put the target at between $10,000 and $20,000 depending on when they are withdrawn to be used.
What the Difference Between Baby Bonds and a 529 Plan?
Some states offer to give babies money for enrolling in a 529 Plan at birth. A 529 Plan helps save for college expenses. Typically states will provide a small incentive such as $50 or $100. Baby bonds are significantly more and can be used for much more than just college expenses.
How do Baby Bonds Help Fight Poverty?
Baby Bonds programs help fight poverty by giving young adults a head start. Having assets, such as savings accounts, can help families weather financial shocks and provide a safety net during times of need. Furthermore, by requiring financial literacy courses, young adults will have more tools to lead them to financial success.
It’s important to note that while baby bonds may be a valuable tool in addressing poverty, they are not a silver bullet solution. They must be combined with other initiatives and policies to reduce poverty.
Final Thoughts on Baby Bonds
People can’t depend on the government for baby bonds today. Even in the future, the money to fund the program will need to come from somewhere, which likely means higher taxes.
In the meantime, the only thing you can do is fund baby bonds yourself. Unfortunately, parents don’t typically have thousands of dollars to put aside when a baby is born. It’s often quite the opposite, with many baby expenses coming all at once. It should go without writing that it’s also useless to fight poverty if one has to have the wealth to save for them in the first place.
If you are fortunate enough to have the money, and your kid has some income (when they are older than babies), you may want to look into kid Roth IRAs as a way to do something similar to baby bonds.
Decades ago, Schoolhouse Rock famously taught millions of kids how a bill became a law and how parts of speech work. I’m Just a Bill and Conjunction Junction are in the Pop Culture Hall of Fame (if there was one). Don’t forget Three is a Magic Number because it rounds out the three most popular Schoolhouse Rock videos.
However, did you know that Schoolhouse Rock also taught kids about money? It was released in 1994, over two decades after the Multiplication Rock that started it all. It’s not very well-known. When ABC does it’s Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong on February 1st, there, sadly, will be no money songs.
I found the DVD of Schoolhouse Rock Money Rock in my library. If you are a Disney+ subscriber, it’s easier to stream it for free. Another option is to watch it on YouTube. The quality of the videos is poor, but better than nothing:
Each of the Money Rock shorts is three minutes long. In about the time that you’d watch a half-hour sitcom, you have a personal finance education. Well, it’s more complicated. The videos go quickly to fit it all in three minutes. The explanation of Dollar Cost Averaging in the investing video is good, but the concept can’t be addressed in only fifteen seconds.
The best thing to do is watch these with the kids and talk about them afterward. My kids had questions about each one. It’s a good hour spent and makes for an easy transition into other Schoolhouse Rock seasons.
Here’s a summary of each episode:
Dollars and Sense
Becky Sue realizes that her ukelele isn’t going to work if she wants to be a country western star. She needs a guitar, amps, speakers, microphones, etc.
The banker is there to help. He explains that if Becky deposits her money, the bank will pay her interest, and she’ll have enough for the equipment in a year.
Becky doesn’t want to wait a year, so the banker explains that she can take a loan and get the equipment immediately. The catch is that she now has to pay the interest.
Dollars and Sense is one of my favorite lessons. Kids learn that interest can either work for you or against you.
My 9-year-old didn’t understand why someone would have to pay the bank interest on the loan. I tried to explain that the bank has to make money. Giving money and just hoping to get paid back in the future isn’t helpful to the bank.
Tax Man Max
Tax Man Max explains taxes. It went quickly, and I had to pause and reply a few times to catch the different types it portrayed: Income, property, sales, utilities, and licenses for dogs and cats.
This does an excellent job of explaining that taxes fund the city, state, and federal governments so that we have schools, roads, train tracks, libraries, police, firefighters, and mail carriers.
There was a quick explanation that people get upset about paying taxes, so they rightfully want to know that the money is being used well.
Finally, there’s a quick explanation of how tax deductions work. While accurate, a one-liner on tax deductions does not provide much education for kids.
Where the Money Goes
Kids learn where the parents’ money goes: taxes, mortgage (house), groceries, car, etc.
This did an outstanding job of telling kids that they can help by saving money on the phone bill, electricity, and even the laundry by not making a mess.
One part I didn’t like is that it mentioned, “If you plan to inherit a million dollars, then there’s no reason to save.” Even in 1994, that may not have been retirement money. You never know what can go wrong with inheritance plans.
$7.50 Once a Week
How does a kid budget his allowance of $7.50 a week? At the beginning of the week, he feels rich.
He budgets an ice cream sandwich after school lunch at $0.50 a day or $2.50 per week. However, he spends the rest of money his money too quickly. He missed opportunities to compare prices and save money.
The kid decides he can do other jobs to make some more money from his parents.
Why do kids need to learn about the National Debt? I’m not sure.
My kids had questions, and I explained that we borrowed money and should pay it back. However, I didn’t want them to be concerned that the United States owes 31 trillion dollars. Japan’s GDP to Debt is twice the United States. I also didn’t want them to think it was okay to borrow money and not pay it back. It’s probably best to avoid this topic with kids.
Despite the success of I’m Just a Bill, there are many adults who don’t know how a bill becomes a law. Nonetheless, it’s videos like this (and I’m Just a Bill) are useful tools to send to adults. As a bonus, Bill from I’m Just a Bill appears at the end.
This for That
This episode is about the history of how bartering worked with cavemen.
It’s hard to trade yaks for cows because they are big and bulky. Shiny shells are easier.
Mesopotamia invented metal coins. China invented paper money. Columbus bartered beads with Native Americans.
We still barter today. Sports teams barter players, and kids barter Pokemon cards.
Walkin’ on Wall Street
A pigeon teaches kids to buy low and sell high. Using your money to make more money is called an investment. Kids learn about what a stock is. There’s a very quick explanation of Dollar Cost Averaging.
One fun part of this video is that the pigeon gets stock quotes in fractions from a newspaper. Nowadays, stock prices are in decimals, and I don’t think papers publish the prices.
The Check’s in the Mail
Overall, this episode wasn’t very useful. We don’t use checks too much nowadays. We use electric transfers, debit cards, or credit cards.
There’s a little interesting part about how your bank transfer money through a central bank to the receiver’s bank.
Final Thoughts on Schoolhouse Rock Money Rock
To write this article, I sat down with my kids to watch it for the second time. I put it on for them around two years ago. My 10-year-old remembered it well, but my 9-year-old did not. I think it’s helpful for this age group because they asked questions, and we could discuss. The discussions were quick, though – they wanted to move on to the next one.
I don’t know if that’s a sign they were looking forward to the next one or if they just wanted to plow through them and get to another activity they enjoy more.
I love whenever anyone’s best tips for raising money-smart kids. However, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been reading Kiplinger’s since I was a kid. My mother subscribed to it, and I was interested. She had explained compound interest to me a long time ago. In ancient times (around 1988), banks paid a real interest rate – about 7-8%, if my memory serves. I had some money saved from my paper route and first job at Papa Gino’s Pizzeria, so it seemed like a good idea to learn more about investing worked.
A lot of personal finance is now online (such as this site), but I’ve been a Kiplinger’s subscriber since college. You can get a couple of years of it for around $40, which is a great deal compared to the cover price of a whopping $6.99. I’m all for recognizing the value of financial advice, but that’s a lot of money for 72 ad-filled pages of often out-of-date information. It shows how challenging the print world is nowadays.
Today, I’d like to cover Kiplinger’s tips for raising money-smart kids, spread out over two issues last year. Specifically, I’m talking about Janet Bodnar, who runs the Money Smart Women column. Fortunately, the column covers some fathers with tips about raising money-smart kids. Personal finance should be something for the whole family. My family is a real-life example of it. It’s just that I have a crazy obsession.
Part 1: Kiplinger’s Tips for Raising Money Smart Kids
The article points out that high-net-worth women have jumped into estate planning due to COVID. These families with a lot of money want their kids to know how to handle it. We fit that profile too. However, I’m far from the stage of worrying about how my nine and 10-year-old boys will manage money years from now. I want to help them to build a foundation now rather than be disappointed later. Personal finance is what I know and what I’m passionate about, so I might pass that knowledge on.
The article continues that spending and saving are the two most important things to teach. I agree, especially for young kids. Older kids have more opportunities to focus on earning more and investing. However, schoolwork comes first, so making more has to be about “working smarter” rather than “working longer/harder.” At least investing can be very quick. An automatic investing plan can be set up in just a few minutes.
The next tip was to have younger kids use cash and let older kids use an ATM account attached to a bank – avoid credit cards. This tip is reasonable. Although, my kids have been authorized users on my Amazon card for a few years. They have yet to learn about it and wouldn’t know where or how to use it, but it will help them earn credit whenever needed.
The final tip was that young kids don’t need to know about family income. That’s obvious. Young children are still learning place value, and numbers like hundreds of thousands don’t make much sense.
Part 2: Kiplinger’s Tips for Raising Money Smart Kids
One reader shared a “parent matching” strategy. That’s where a parent will reward a child for saving with more money, similar to how a 401k match works at many companies. Another reader made it simple, “Live below your means.” Finally, one reader stressed the value of saving over earning because you pay taxes on money earned.
Some readers disagreed with the above tip about not giving kids credit cards. Like me, one reader wanted their children to establish excellent credit at a young age. Another reader required kids to pay it off in full every month. I love that last tip, as it builds a habit and establishes the importance of it before the kids are on their own in college.
I found all these reader tips (along with Bodnar’s book recommendation) better than the original article. Over both articles, there are plenty of good tips – definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
Origanlly published 1/24/2022
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I am not a financial adviser. Kid Wealth content is for educational purposes only and the information should not be construed as professional financial advice.