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About Kids Today

Today's kids have grown up in an era of relative economic prosperity. As a result, they –

  • Have money and spend it. But who teaches them how to limit their spending or how much to save for the long-term?
  • Watch parents use ATMs – magical sources of money. Who brings home the hard lesson that earnings make those withdrawals possible?
  • Use their parents' credit cards or have their own. Who teaches tweens and teens that, plastic transactions create debt? That debt eventually comes due.
  • Are impressionable, easy targets of the marketplace. Who helps kids judge when they have enough? Who helps them distinguish between needs and wants?
  • Are tech-savvy enough to bank online. But there's more involved than wielding a mouse. Who explains the basics of earning, saving, investing, debt, and spending? Who teaches older teens how finance charges or interest rates can add up? Who shows them how to keep track of their checking accounts?

  • It seems the answer is no one. Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy measures the nation's 12th graders' knowledge of personal finance. Since 1997, the overwhelming majority of students have failed the test. Yet with each passing year, kids are breaking spending records.

    If not you, who?

    Our kids can tell us all about the "latest" and the "hottest" in the marketplace. They are steeped in advertising. Yet research shows that they know very little about handling money. For example, huge numbers of the nation's kids don't know they should pay more than the required minimum on their credit card balance.

    If kids carry such habits into adulthood, they are going to be making mistakes that have serious long-term consequences. It falls to parents to educate their kids. Use the pages in this section to find out how.