Kiplinger’s Tips for Raising Money-Smart Kids

Raising Money Smart Kids

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… well, I was a kid. My mother subscribed to it and I was interested. She had explained compound interest to me a long time ago. Back in those ancient days of around 1988, banks paid a real interest rate – around 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 around 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 I’m all for recognizing the value of financial advice, but that’s a lot of money for 72 ad-filled pages of often out-of-date information.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 difficult the print world is nowadays.

Today, I’d like to cover Kiplinger’s tips for raising money-smart kids, which was 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 who have tips about raising money-smart kids too. Personal finance should be something the whole family can be a part of. My family is a real-life example of it… I just happen to have a crazy obsession.

Part 1: Kiplinger’s Tips for Raising Money Smart Kids

In the first article, Janet Bodnar covers What Kids Need to Know About Finances. She’s literally written the book Raising Money Smart Kids, but to be fair there are more than a few books with that title.

The article makes a point 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 take care of it. Maybe we fit that profile too. However, I’m far from the stage of worrying about how my 8 and 9-year-olds are going to manage money years from now. I simply want to help them have a foundation now rather than be disappointed later. It’s what I know and what I’m passionate about, so I might pass that knowledge on.

The article continues that the two most important things to teach are spending and saving. I agree, especially for young kids. Older kids have more opportunities to focus on earning more and investing. That said, I believe that schoolwork comes first, so earning more has to be “work smarter” rather than “work longer/harder.” At least investing can be very quick, setting up an automatic investing plan can be done 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, I should mention that my kids have been authorized users on my Amazon card for a few years now. They have no idea about it and wouldn’t know where it is or how to use it, but it will help them earn credit whenever they need it.

The final tip was that young kids don’t need to know about the family income. I think that’s obvious. Young children are still learning place value and numbers like hundreds of thousands simply don’t make much sense.

Part 2: Kiplinger’s Tips for Raising Money Smart Kids

As a follow-up to that article, Bodnar shared some reader tips on 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 great 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.

Finally, Bodnar recommended two books for helping high school students with investing, The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of and How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!. For younger kids, I have my own opinion on the best book to teach kids about money.

Aside from books, I would add a podcast for teens, NPR’s Planet Money’s Summer School on investing.

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.

The Best Book to Teach Kids About Money

Have you ever heard of If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz? It’s illustrated by Steven Kellogg who happens to have written and illustrated one of my wife’s favorite books, The Mysterious Tadpole. My wife read it when she was a little girl. Our kids are very familiar with Alphonse.

By now you may have realized that If You Made a Million is not about helping adults understand money. It’s about helping children. But please don’t click away just yet. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 2 years, it’s that adults can learn quite a bit from children’s books.

Let’s dig into what makes If You Made a Million so special. (By the way, I was not paid to write this review. I simply saw it at the library. I will however make a small commission if you purchase the book from the above link.)

If You Made a Million

Before I get started with the review, let’s get a very important number out there: 1989. That’s when If You Made a Million was written. Yes, the book is as old as Taylor Swift. It is also three years older than Your Money or Your Life, which is often considered the first FIRE book. It was also written 6 years before Suze Orman wrote her first book.

Being old doesn’t make things good. (This blog is living proof of that.) Let’s get to the actual content.

Overall, the book takes a child on a journey of earning and spending money. It starts with feeding a fish a penny, which will allow you to buy one of a shyster’s pebbles. It continues to educate children about coins with increasingly more difficult jobs and ways to spend the money. These first few pages are fairly boring, but they go quickly since there’s only a sentence or two on each page. It’s important to build that foundation.

Once you get into earning a dollar, the book tells the story of compound interest. Here’s the first one:

At ten dollars, the compound interest story gets a little more exciting:

At one thousand dollars, the idea of checks and how they work is introduced. It’s simply much easier than carrying around a wheelbarrow of coins or even a bunch of bills.

At fifty thousand dollars, we learn about how mortgages work:

There’s a little more to mortgages. Specifically, it shows how you keep giving money to the bank year after year for 40 years. The illustrations show the old man still physically bringing his check to the bank for his castle payment. It also explains that this time, you are the one paying interest to the bank.

Finally, we get to the FIRE part of the book. It only takes six sentences. The first four are:

“If you have some very expensive plans, you may have to take on a tough job that pays well.
If you think ogre-taming would be an exciting challenge, you can have fun and make a great deal of money, too.
Of course, you may not enjoy taming obstreperous ogres or building bulky bridges, or painting purple pots.
Enjoying your work is more important than money, so you should look for another job or make less expensive plans.”

Remember what I wrote before about adults learning from children’s books? That last sentence is “Exhibit A” of that.

I promised you six sentences. Here’s two more:

Did you catch the financial independence message there? Having that kind of passive income gives you the option to not work at all, but maybe you should choose the work that interests you because doing nothing could be boring.

There’s a quick concluding page after that to get children’s minds thinking about what they’d do if they made a million dollars.

Final Thoughts on If You Made a Million

I found it surprising how well the math from 1989 holds up today. The banks aren’t paying 5.25% interest like the examples. However, we often work with similar (or even larger) interest rates assuming more risk and different asset allocations.

Also, the one million number at the end might not seem like enough today. However, it is $2,034,157.94 in 2018 dollars. You’ll often see $2 million as the target number for FIRE, so the one million number from 1989 is solid.

After the story ends, there’s a significant section of “A Note from the Author.” Here you get about 1500 words on each of the themes in the book: why money, how banks work, interest and compound interest, checks and checking accounts, loans, and income tax.

Finally, there’s a huge explanation of how he calculated some of the amazing numbers used in the book. These are things like a million dollars in pennies will stack 95 miles high and a million dollars in quarters would way as much as a whale. If you love geeky math, this is fun, but you could choose to skip it and still get all the financial lessons.

I loved If You Made a Million so much that I decided to buy it. We’ve read it about every year for a few years now.

Teach Your Kids About Money with Television

Teach Kids About Money With Television

Does it make sense to teach kids about money with television shows? At first, it may make sense to avoid it. Some argue that kids watch too much television these days. It’s good to have limits, but I think television can be a useful tool.
My opinion is, if they are going to watch television anyway, teaching kids financial literacy is a good use of that time. I’ve put together a few shows that can help form (or supplement) their financial education.

Teen Titans Go!

That link goes to a list of about a half-dozen episodes of Teen Titans Go! that have important personal finance lessons. There are more than 300 episodes of Teen Titans Go! so you might have to look up those specific episodes on Hulu. There are very few other places where you’ll find an entertaining episode about building wealth with rental properties. A different episode covers the importance of good credit history and credit score. Another episode teaches the value of money with a weird analogy of bees being the currency. There’s also an episode with an analogy of taking on too much student loan debt to go to the dream college instead of making the fiscally smart decision.

Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire Club

Warren Buffett has a cartoon teaching kids entrepreneurial lessons. There are more than twenty episodes of his group of young teens learning money lessons. It’s free to stream at the link above, with no subscription service to buy.

School House Rock

Decades ago, School House Rock famously taught millions of kids how a bill became a law and how parts of speech work. I don’t remember seeing their lessons about money, but my local library had a DVD that was pure gold, Schoolhouse Rock: Money.

You can watch all 8 money lessons on YouTube, but they are a little grainy:

If you have a Disney+ subscription, you can get perfect quality by looking up School House Rock and skipping to season 6 for all the money lessons. The other seasons cover a variety of different topics that are worth your time too.
If you have a Disney+ subscription, look up School House Rock and skip to season 6 for all the money lessons. (While you are there check out all the other seasons.)

The short songs cover money management, economics, taxes, the national debt, investing in stocks, and dollar-cost averaging. There’s a little history of money, explaining how barter and coins work.

Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids

There’s a very complete curriculum of money education available at Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids. The lessons consist of 3-minute videos and PDFs designed for teachers (classroom activity) and parents (family activity).

Dr. Alice Wilder, the creator, is known for Blues Clues, Tumble Leaf, and Super Why, one of my favorite shows for teaching younger kids how to read.
Forbes gave Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids a good review.

Shark Tank

Older kids may appreciate Shark Tank. While some topics may be boring to kids, there are quite a few episodes with kids who are entrepreneurs. My oldest saw an episode where a kid started a dog treat business that was very successful. He wanted to start cooking right away.

Biz Kid$

Biz Kid$ is a show designed to teach kids everything about personal finance. You can find some clips here. Those clips come with a lesson plan. All the lesson plans are available in English, but some are available in Spanish as well.
There are a few free streaming episodes on Vimeo.
Unfortunately, if you want to watch all the episodes, it is quite expensive. It seems like the pricing is geared towards school districts. Each 28-minute episode costs $5 to buy or $2 to rent. It would cost about $350 to buy all 71 episodes. You can buy a subscription to stream seasons 1-3 for $30/mo. You’d have to buy another subscription to stream seasons 4-6 for another $30/mo.
So if you were really good about binge-watching 71 episodes, you could do it for $60. That’s a tall order.
I haven’t taken the time to watch this series yet, but I hope to at least watch and review the free episodes soon.

The Toy Box

I’ve never seen this show, but I’ve read some interesting things about it. It sounds a little like Shark Tank where kids (and toy experts) are judges of toys. I’m not sure how much personal finance it will teach, but it sounds like it would be a fun show.
You can buy each of the two seasons of The Toy Box for $15 on Amazon. I can’t seem to find it available for streaming on any major platform.

Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Kids Money with Television

There are a lot of resources out there. I think it makes sense to start with the free ones like Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire Club. We’ve watched most of them and, while it isn’t our kids’ most favorite show, it’s among their favorite learning shows.

How To Give Your Child An Allowance

How To Give Your Child An Allowance? That’s easy, you just hand them money, right?

While the physical act of giving an allowance is easy, there’s more that you may want to think about first.

Should you Give Your Child An Allowance?

There’s no right and wrong answer here. There are many kids who never got an allowance growing up. Many are now parents and say, “Hey, I grew up okay.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

My opinion is that managing money helps your child begin their financial education. They get to start to make choices of what’s important to them. They learn to plan and save for more expensive purchases.

Getting access to money is the first step in their financial journey. I think it’s easier to do it through an allowance, or payment for extra work around the house. Otherwise, they may have to wait until they get a job like a paper route, lawnmowing, or babysitting.

Earning a Basic Allowance

How to Give Child an Allowance

I believe it’s important for kids to understand that they earn the allowance. They have to do some chores around the house. It could be making their beds, doing laundry, cleaning dishes, whatever you feel is most appropriate for their age group.

I believe children should also be given the chance to earn extra money for extra work. In our house, that means cleaning up after the dog or making him breakfast. It isn’t always clear what should count as basic work and what should count as extra work. This is a case where I think you just have to use your best judgment.

How Much Allowance to Give Your Child

The general rule of thumb is that every child should get a weekly allowance equal to their age. My 6 year old would get $6 and my 8-year-old would get $8. When I first read that, it seemed like too much. I cover many of their expenses… why do they need so much money?

However, the $1 a year rule of thumb will make more sense when you read the next section. When you budget that allowance it won’t seem like so much.

Teaching Your Kids to Budgeting Their Allowance

There are three basic things that kids can do with their money. They can give it to someone in need. They can save it for something in the future. Finally, they can spend it.

Many people get physical jars of Give, Save, and Spend so that the allowance can be divided out.

1. Give

I believe it’s important to start with the amount of money to give. As parents we don’t focus on giving. However, we have to cover basic needs like housing, transportation, and food. We also have to pay taxes. Kids have life good. They don’t have to pay any of those.

They can afford to give money. I think it’s valuable to get them thinking about others who are less fortunate, especially if they are as fortunate as my kids are.

The rule of thumb is to put one-third of the money in a giving jar.

2. Save

My favorite jar is the saving jar. I’ve always been the type to save my Halloween candy for a rainy day. The comfort of having those “savings” meant a lot to me.

Saving money is important in three ways. A child can learn that they can save money for something extra special. A child doesn’t necessarily need an emergency fund, but saving lays the early groundwork for that. Finally, savings are necessary to take the critical step towards building wealth: investing.

3. Spend

Spending is very important. Children can learn a lot by spending money. They may even learn more when they make “mistakes” or realize that maybe they should have spent differently.

Give, save, spend… you have noticed that the math is easy – simply divide the allowance by three. If it doesn’t divide easily, I’d put the extra dollar in the saving jar.

When Should Give Your Child An Allowance

If there’s one theme to remember with everything when it comes to allowances, it’s that there are no firm rules. My 6 and 8-year-old don’t get an allowance yet. It’s not that they don’t deserve one or that we don’t believe they should get one. We’re simply very busy with a lot of other activities between karate, Boy Scouts, archery, and homework. The days go by so fast that we never get to everything.

I hope to get them started on an allowance in the next couple of weeks. I want to have a plan of standard chores and bonus chores. I’m also looking at getting this spend, save, give jar. We might also make due with a few mason jars and some rubber bands to hold them together.

Final Allowance Thoughts

Much of this article is based on my gut and only a little quick research into the best way to give a child an allowance. Like everything in parenting, I’m learning as I go. I’m sure there are more than a few things that I haven’t thought of. If you happen to have more experience or even different gut feelings, I’d appreciate it if you drop me a line in the comments.

Welcome to Kid Wealth

Welcome to Kid Wealth

Welcome to Kid Wealth, where kids (and their parents) learn to take control of their money.

Kid Wealth is for both parents and kids. Initially, I’ll be focusing more on parents. That’s my most recent experience. I’ve got 35 years of rust gathered on my kid experience. Don’t worry if you are a kid reading this. I’m going to need your perspective to make this work. It’s going to take a real team effort.

For now, I’ve got a message for each of you. Feel free to spy on each other’s message, we don’t need to have any secrets here.

Kid Wealth for Parents

We all want our kids to have a better life than we had, right? One of the best ways to ensure that is to have enough money.

I know what you are thinking, “Money doesn’t buy happiness. I don’t want my kid thinking that it does.” I don’t disagree. That’s why this website is called “Kid Wealth.” Wealth, by many people’s definitions, can extend beyond money itself.

Besides, even though money may not buy happiness, it can help you avoid the stress that is associated with unhappiness.

Kid Wealth for Kids

You’ve got the more difficult job here. It’s your money and your hard work that went into making it. Parents have it easy, they only have to talk about money. Talk is cheap, right? So while this may seem like a lot of learning and a lot of doing, I want you to note one very important thing.

Mastering money at a young age is much, much than when you are older. You’ve got much more time for compound interest* to help your investments grow into millions of dollars. You’ll be amazed at how much money you can make without doing any work at all.

Doesn’t that sound like something worth learning and working for?

* If you don’t know what compound interest is, don’t worry about it. We’ll get to it soon.