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Ask the Expert

April is Financial Literacy Month. How does one begin to introduce financial literacy concepts to kids?

As appeared in the Cleveland Fed Digest's Ask the Expert

Talking with children about money at an early age might be helpful because thinking critically about money decisions can become a good habit, just like eating healthy foods or brushing your teeth. Conversations can happen through storytelling, for example, talking to children about what your first job was or what the first thing was that you saved money to buy. I remember my father told me his first job, when he was 13 years old, was bagging at a grocery store, and he saved money to buy a puppy.

We offer a number of conversation starters in our Great Minds Think workbook, available free online and in hard copy. This book covers personal finance concepts, including saving, spending, and budgeting, and focuses on offering tools that can help young readers think critically about money choices. We’re updating the book this year, in fact—both the English and Spanish versions.

Of course, financial literacy learning is not only for kids. Because the financial services landscape continues to change, it’s important for adults to do research and think carefully about money decisions in order to reach their personal financial goals. What you may have learned in school may not apply later in life.

Doing research around financial decisions can help provide information for weighing the costs and benefits of a decision. When it comes to saving money, making small changes can add up over time. Last year, I saved most of my change, and at the end of the year, I took my family out to a nice dinner. I was surprised at how those nickels and quarters added up over time. Other small experiments might include seeing how much you save in a month or a year if you pack your lunch instead of dining out or take public transportation instead of driving.


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