What a Junior Achievement Survey Tells Us About Kids, Parents and Money

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Guess which topic most parents say is easier to explain to their kids than the birds and the bees, death or politics?

You guessed it: Money. A whopping 77 percent of parents can talk more easily about finances with their kids than they can other challenging topics.

That’s good news on the financial front. It means money isn’t a taboo topic in most U.S. families, according to a new survey by Wakefield Research for Junior Achievement and the Jackson Charitable Foundation. The Children’s Financial Literacy Survey included 500 children, aged seven to 10, and their parents.

Other key survey findings:

  • 77 percent of parents believe the best place for kids to learn personal finance basics is at home. Good thing, since only five U.S. states (Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia) require high school students to take one personal finance course in order to graduate, says Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have zero personal finance requirements in their high school curricula.
  • Parents think kids should learn about money as young as age five, and by age eight, on average. Many kids begin to start understanding the connection between numbers and money in kindergarten (“Five pennies is the same as a five-cent nickel.”). By age eight, kids may understand that money is exchanged for goods and services (i.e. to buy stuff).
  • 92 percent of parents save money—for emergencies, college tuition, and retirement. Good on you, parents! You’ve got the most important savings goals covered. Of course, we don’t know how much the surveyed parents are saving. But hey, any savings amount is a good thing.
  • 82 percent of kids earn allowances from parents for doing chores, getting good grades, doing homework and doing good deeds. Learn more about the pros and cons of connecting allowance to these accomplishments.

Of course, all is not rosy when it comes to kids and money. Many of the young survey respondents showed they have a lot left to learn about finances. But hey, the oldest kids surveyed were only 10. They’ve got time:

  • 33 percent of the kids surveyed haven’t yet been taught how to get or earn money. Uh oh. Is that a sign that it’s time to talk about extra summer chores for pay, parents?
  • 41 percent of kids don’t know how to spend money. Even kids as young as 10 can begin making some simple spending decisions. How about having your kid help pick a birthday gift (with a maximum dollar amount) for a friend? Or choose how to spend their souvenir money during your summer vacation?
  • 47 percent of kids haven’t learned how to give money to help people. An easy fix: Many parents use the “three-jar system,” (or some version of it.). They require their kids to split their allowances three ways: Spending, saving and donating. This way, giving money to others becomes an automatic habit. Be sure to let your kids help decide where their donations will go.
  • When asked why they think people put money in a bank, only slightly more than half (53 percent) of kids said “saving it so they won’t spend it.” First, banks and credit unions are almost invisible to kids, since parents don’t physically visit branches anymore. You could make a point to drop into your bank or credit union occasionally, or look online for kid-friendly videos like “Roles of a Bank” from CashVille Kidz.Just as important, though, is explaining to your kids how banks, budget categories and savings accounts make it easier for them to separate their spending money from savings.
  • Only 25 percent of kids surveyed know you can earn interest on savings. Interest can seem like a tricky topic to explain to kids, for sure. How about sharing this “Schoolhouse Rock” classic to help make the concept clear?

For more about the survey, along with other kids, work and money topics, visit Junior Achievement’s website.

(photo courtesy © Paul Hamilton cc2.0)

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Greenlight Kids Save 3 Times More than the Average U.S. Household

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As the average U.S. household debt continues to rise, Greenlight families are seeing a different trend. We’re thrilled to announce today that Greenlight kids have saved more than $1 million dollars using Greenlight Savings, The Educational Savings Account for Kids. Official story here. With the average U.S. household savings rate at 2.8%, Greenlight kids are saving a whopping 8.4% of their money on average. That’s triple the national average!  

The Educational Savings Account for Kids allows kids to see real growth in their savings account, how interest works over time, and the impact of spending versus saving, which helps them understand the importance of saving for the future. Not only that, but parents can set their own interest rate and pay the interest automatically within the child’s Greenlight Savings. The national average interest rate for bank savings accounts is 0.08%, making it difficult to educate kids on the value of savings. The average interest rate set by Greenlight parents is 19.84% enabling kids to see the benefits and importance of savings almost immediately.

Since April, Greenlight kids have more than quadrupled the amount of money in their savings accounts. We are proud to continue offering new features like the Educational Savings Account for Kids as an option that is convenient for families and offers flexibility for each family and each child’s unique needs. We are helping parents teach their kids to be smart about money and set them up for success financially, and are hopeful that impact can change the financial course for a new generation.

We’re on a mission to help parents raise financially-smart kids and are thrilled to see so many families using Greenlight Savings to teach their kids the importance of saving. But, we’re not done just yet. We have several new features that we’re excited to release in the near future. Stay tuned!

 

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Want your kids to make better food choices? Check out how one family is using Greenlight to help!

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Kids are tough. Shopping for foods they’ll eat, making lunches, getting them to do their homework, getting them up and out the door on time, and getting them to put down their tech and go outside can be challenging. One of the biggest challenges we as parents face when it comes to kids is getting them to eat healthily.

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