Money Matters: Raising financially smart kids

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 9/12/2012 9:57 am

Kids are back in school to brush up on their reading, writing and arithmetic. A law enacted by Texas State Legislature in 2006 adds Personal Financial Literacy to that class list.

The subject is required for high school graduation in all Texas school districts. That means money management is part of the curriculum in the LISD school districts.

When teaching money smarts to kids, LISD Social Studies Coordinator, Misty Rieber, said the sooner the better.    

“We begin in Kindergarten teaching kids the differences between wants and needs,” Rieber said.  

That exposure to personal finance gets more advanced with age.

“In third grade we have an entrepreneurial unit and our students actually set up a business. Some of them have set up a service like picking up trash or helping a teacher clean up a room. It’s all with pretend money, but they learn the value of what it is to sell something and at the end what you can buy with that money,” Rieber said.  

Rieber said understanding the value of a dollar, and what it takes to earn it, are lessons that go hand-in-hand.

“They go and they can they can pay to get things like a pencil, a t-shirt, a book cover, or you might save up your money and get something a little more exciting. It teaches kids the value of earning money and doing something positive in order to get a reward,” Rieber said.  

The curriculum culminates senior year when students dive into the kind of budgeting that adults handle on a daily basis. 

“It goes all the way up through grade 12 where we teach Personal Financially Literacy. That’s where kids actually learn how to make a budget, what it means to have a mortgage versus rent, how they’re going to pay their bills and what it’s like to live in the real world with a checking account and all those things,” Rieber said.  

Although schools are formally required by law to educate about personal finance, Rieber suggests parents start at home.

“If you do commissions or allowance, whatever you do in your family, let them spend that money and see the value of what that is,” Rieber said.

In addition, using cash rather than credit or debit cards makes the lesson more visual.

“I think the biggest thing though is allowing children to count out their change, be the kid to spend that change when they go to the grocery store and want something special. Just having those experiences with money shows them the value of it and what it means to save,” Rieber said.  

Rieber said showing kids the value of earning and saving will better prepare them for those inevitable financial challenges in their adult lives.

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