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Raising Money Smart Kids

INDIANAPOLIS, April 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- We're all familiar with the three "R"s - reading, w riting and a rithmetic. Perhaps we need to add a fourth "r" - riches. According to the Council for Economic Education, less than one third of states require a financial literacy course be taught in high schools. April is Financial Literacy Month, so there is no better time to talk to your children about money.

"As parents, we want what's best for our kids. That should include providing them the skills they need to be financially independent," said Tim Massey, Indiana President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "We have the opportunity to teach them to not make some of the same financial mistakes we may have made growing up."

You don't have to introduce your kids to your financial advisor, but it is important to introduce them to finance basics — because it's possible no one else will. Use the tips below to help your children or grandchildren develop money smarts, starting as soon as they can point to something in a store and say, "I want that!"

One of the best ways to teach your child good money management habits is to give them an allowance. Using their allowance, you can help your kids learn to set priorities and distinguish between needs and wants — essential budgeting and saving skills. Start with the basics. Consider giving elementary school kids a weekly allowance equal to their age, in denominations that make it easy for them to divide their money between donating, saving and spending — say, five one-dollar bills. Review middle schoolers' weekly expenses and decide together on a workable amount. High schoolers and college students might receive a monthly deposit to their checking account, which gives you an opportunity to teach them how to balance a checkbook, pay bills, and begin to budget a bit more independently than younger kids.

Massey added, "If you want to place restrictions on how and where the allowance money can be spent, be clear up front with your child regarding those limitations. They also need to know what mom and dad are still paying for – school uniforms, sports equipment, or cell phone?"

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