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Andrea Travillian

Kids & Money


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College Savings and Financial Literacy

Thursday April 17, 2014

Recently Upromise by Sallie Mae released their latest findings in their yearly report on How America Saves for College.  While some of the findings were predictable, such as people are not saving because there is no extra money.  There was one findings that I found fascinating.

It was that those that were not saving for college had children that were less likely to have their own savings account.  In fact of the non-savers 81% of those kids did not have a savings account, while 66% of the kids of savers did not have an account.

While the reasons for this and the points for debate and discussion could be numerous, the thing that really jumps out at me is that having a savings account is one of the best ways to increase financial literacy, and yet an overwhelming majority of kids don't have a savings account.

So I challenge you, start your kids financial education and start them saving for their own college by opening them a bank account today!  (According to the same study only 18% of kids are saving for their own college).


How Early Should I Start Teaching My Kids About Money

Friday April 11, 2014

How Early Should I Start Teaching My Kids About Money?

I get this question a lot!  My standard answer is as early as possible.  The sooner they start learning the better off they will be.  And if you have not started and they are nearing high school or college - start today.  It is better to get them going than to teach nothing at all!

I started with my own son around the age of 3 1/2, by teaching him how to count coins.  As he has grown the lessons have evolved and covered more topics.  I can say for sure that his ability to grasp concepts about money is improved because we have always talked to him about it and not made it a taboo topic.

So if you are going to start as soon as possible, your next question is probably - what should I start teaching?

The easy one is if they are little and you still need to teach them to count money - start there!  Outside of that it really depends on how old your child is and how emotionally ready they are to learn the concepts.  Here are some articles that can help you get some ideas on where to start:

Five Ways to Teach Your Kids the Value of Money

Money Management for Teens

Top Four Things to Teach Young Kids about Money

Paying for College: The Disconnect Between Kids and Parents

Monday April 7, 2014

Recently T. Rowe Price came out with their annual kids and money survey.  Once a year they poll parents and kids about the topic of money.   The kids are ages 8 - 14 and from the same households that the parents are - so you would think the views would be similar.

Unfortunately a few very different college statistics stuck out:

  • 38% of the kids were not sure if their parents are saving for college.
  • 32% of the kids are saving for their own college.
  • 29% of parents say that they will save for most or all of the kids college expenses.
  • 53% of kids expect parents to pay for most or all of their college.

What do these statistics tell me?  More kids think mom and dad will take care of than mom and dad actually plan on taking care of!

So what do we think will cover the gap?

60% of the parents think the difference in savings will be covered by scholarships.

While the chance of getting a scholarship are less than 5% for those kids with GPA's over 3.5.

We have a bit of a disconnect here on how college costs are going to be paid for - on both sides of the fence.

How can you fix this to make sure that you and your kids have the funds for college- or at least have the right expectations for college?

Talk about it!

Not sure where to start?  Here is an article about how to set expectations for who is paying for college.

Have the chat before it is too late and student loans are the only option!


National Financial Literacy Month

Monday March 31, 2014

April is National Financial Literacy month.  While I would love it if you were teaching yourself and your kids about money year round, there is nothing better than a celebration month to get you started and focused for at least a little while on a topic of importance.

Why is financial literacy important?  Because without it you cannot be an educated consumer and you cannot create a financially sound life.

So I challenge you to start this month to teach yourself and your kids about money.  Pick one topic and start learning about it.  Pick up a personal finance book and start reading it as a family.  Just pick one thing to educate yourself about and get going!

Here are some Articles to get you started:

Seven Ways to Teach Your Child the Value of Money

First Step in Teaching Your Child about Investing

Personal Finance Education: How to Keep Making Progress


Debit Cards and Kids

Saturday March 29, 2014

The thought of my son having a debit card scares me.  Yet I do not let that stop me from teaching him about money and helping him learn everything he can about it while he is at my house.

Why?   I know that he has to have a debit card at some point in his future, so I might as well insure that he is prepared to manage it the right way.   I would much rather that happened when the stakes were small and he lives at home than him learning while he is out on his own and the stakes are much bigger.

So if you know that you want to teach your child about money at home how do you know when that should start?  In general I say as early as possible but a debit card is a little bit different.  For this I would recommend you do it when they get a checking account.

For more information on specific ages and more details on why this is so important, check out my article on When You Should Give Your Child a Debit Card.



Are You the Wrong Person to Teach Your Kids About Money

Thursday March 27, 2014

Today their was an article on the NBC News website about it being difficult for parents that are living paycheck to paycheck to teach their kids about money.  The parents believed that because they were not good with money they were the wrong ones to teach their kids about money.

Unfortunately we have talked here before, that the number one source of financial education for our kids is us - the parents.  If we are not willing to teach them about money then who will?

In fact, parents that have had struggles with money are the best teachers.  Why?  Because of experience - experience is the best teacher. You know what it takes to get through or survive the hard times.  As an added bonus you can learn more about money as you are teaching your child about it.

Exactly how do you start to teach your kids if you are struggling?  After all if you are struggling how can you allocate extra money for allowances?  What other ways can you teach?

The best thing you can do is just start talking to your kids about money.  Start where you are. If that is clipping coupons and teaching them how to save money then that is great.  It is a financial skill that needs to be learned and is often skipped over.

If your kids are old enough to understand bigger concepts, check out financial books from the library and read them together and discuss.

Look at their financial education as a way to share your experience and learn at the same time.

Here are some articles that will help you teach your kids about money, without having to provide extra money for allowances:

Teach Your Child to Comparison Shop

Top 10 Websites to Teach Kids About Money

How to Talk About Money Around Your Kids


Local Kids and Money Classes

Friday March 21, 2014

Sometimes learning something online is just not an option for being able to fully understand something.

You need that one on one interaction that can only come from a live class.   While you think this might be just for bigger topics or "adult" matter, it can be the same for teaching your kids about money.

You are in luck, over the years I have come across many versions of classes on teaching kids about money.  Some are focused on teaching the kids and some are focused on teaching the parents.

So how do you find these classes?

The easy answer is to search for them - which you can still do, however I will clue you in on a couple of places to go look.

These I find are typically the best places to start:

  • Public Library
  • Community Recreation Centers
  • Community Colleges

No luck finding one?  Don't worry, I will be right here writing away!  In fact you can sign up for my weekly newsletter so you don't miss out on a thing!

Weekly Kids and Money Newsletter

Have you ever taken a live kids and money class?  If so, where did you find it?

Recommended Reading:

Teach Your Kids How to Properly Manage Their New Checking Account

Language and Teaching About Money

Where to Start Teaching Your Kids About Money

Friday March 14, 2014

Today, I want to talk a little bit about the two most important things that you can do for your children to help them build a better financial space.  Both of these are the best way to begin teaching your kids about money.

The first thing is to talk about money.  By talking about money and not making it a hidden taboo subject they will learn that it's okay to learn about money and to talk about money.   This doesn't always have to be in-depth conversations.  Don't feel like when I say "talk about money" that you need to sit down with your kids and have this huge investing discussion or how much the house costs.

It can be small, simple things like using coupons. Why you're using them, what this does for you.  Talk about the trade-offs in life: Like, if you shut off this light, we save electricity, we can save money for our vacation.  Just start talking about money so they know it's acceptable to talk about it and ask questions about it.

The second most important thing that you can do for your kids is to let them start making money decisions as early as possible.  The earlier that your kids make their money mistakes, the longer they have to get it right. I know firsthand, this is a huge reason why a lot of my money mistakes weren't earth-shattering, because I had an interest in money early.

For example, I learned very early on to not take water cooler advice on stocks.  Because I learned this lesson in college, I only lost $300 on this particular stock; instead of learning that later in life and it could have been thousands.  So the earlier that you let your kids make decisions, the earlier they learn those lessons themselves.

So, talk to your kids about money and let them start managing it as soon as they can so they can learn lessons.

For help on Teaching your kids about money check out these articles:

How to Balance a Savings Account


First Steps on Teaching Your Kids About Investing


What Rules Should You Put on Allowance

Teaching Your Kids about Banking

Thursday March 6, 2014

While we might think banking is a relatively boring topic, our kids who are not familiar with it are more than eager to learn.  I learned this first hand when I took my son to his first credit union annual meeting.

We had already been doing the save, deposit, balance the checkbook routine, but had not moved beyond the basics.  Then when our credit union's annual meeting came around they had special kids activities and I thought it would be good for him to see the business side also.  Plus he wanted to go, because they had special kids prizes!

Once we were there I was amazed at how many questions he asked about not only the business side, but banking in general.  He was intrigued by all the statistics and information they provided.

So what should you take from this?  Kids are very interested in how things work, and have yet to build up the lack of desire to pay attention to money, so utilize the time you have while they are young.  Start teaching them about money management today.  Need a bit of extra help?  This is one of the nice benefits of credit unions for kids - extra education and opportunities to interact.

So go ahead and take your kids to a boring business meeting or head to the bank - they will enjoy it more than you think.

For more reasons on why a credit union might be better than a bank, check out: Five Reasons a Credit Union is Good for Your Kids Savings

Preparing Cheap and Healthy School Lunches

Tuesday March 4, 2014

As parents, we want our kids to have healthy lunches, without making us go broke in the process!  We go back and forth on sending a home made lunch or letting them eat the school lunch, cause we are never quite sure what the best way really is.

Here is some insight into what I do and how to keep the costs down when putting together a low cost brown bag lunch.

My son gets one fruit, one veggie, and either a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or plain lean turkey.  His drink is water, except for special occasion.  Using almost all organic, when available, his lunch typically costs me  about $2.40 per day.  A touch more expensive than school lunch - but higher quality ingredients.

Here is how I keep these costs down:

  1. The easiest way to keep costs down is to control grocery costs!  Use coupons, shop sales and for non perishable items buy in bulk.  I am also very conscious of the varying prices of my regular items.  While I am not one for driving all over the city to chase prices, if there is enough of a difference and the drive is not far, I ensure I go get the cheap version.
  2. Use leftovers - this is a great way to not only use up the food we buy but to save time.  Repackage the prior nights meal so that you can send it to school the next day.  Some schools offer a microwave, otherwise use insulated packages to send lunch in.  This is mainly what I do for my husband and I, saves a bunch for out to eat lunch expenses.
  3. Focus on simple meals that cover all the basics - lean protein, carbohydrates and a fruit and veggie.  It really does not need to be fancy, just healthy and not crazy expensive.


Here are some more resources for you to use when making lunches and figuring out your costs.

How to Figure Out What is Cheaper: School or Sack Lunch

Brown Bag Lunch Recipes

School Lunch Ideas



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