Th­ese Lit­tle Piggies Save at Home

The Washington Post Sunday - - Business - Michelle Sin­gle­tary

Ev­ery op­por­tu­nity I get, I try to teach my chil­dren some money lessons.

In my house­hold, most re­quests for toys, video games or trips to a fast- food restau­rant are met with two words: Col­lege Fund.

You may not re­al­ize it, but your chil­dren do watch, lis­ten and in­ter­nal­ize what you say and do about money. For ex­am­ple, my 8- year- old son was or­der­ing from the kids’ menu and couldn’t de­cide be­tween a ham­burger and a cheese­burger when we were hav­ing brunch one day af­ter church. When I asked him why he was tak­ing so long to de­cide, he said, “ Mommy, the cheese­burger costs 20 cents more than the ham­burger, and we need that money for my col­lege fund.”

I put my right hand across my heart. I was so proud. I let him have the cheese­burger.

“ I think this time we can splurge and your col­lege fund will be okay, honey,” I said.

If you don’t know how to start teach­ing your chil­dren about money, let me help be­cause April has been

des­ig­nated Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy Month. So for the Color of Money Book Club, I’ve se­lected a num­ber of prod­ucts and books to help you teach the chil­dren in your life about money.

I’ll start with piggy banks. The first one I sug­gest is sold by Moon­jar ( www.moon­jar.com or 888- 323- 0001). Cre­ated by Eu­lalie M. Scan­di­uzzi, a Seat­tle na­tive, this is a sim­ple piggy bank, di­vided into three boxes, that shows chil­dren how to share, save and spend their money. The bank costs $ 6.95 and comes with a cute, lit­tle pass­book for the child to track his trans­ac­tions. If you want some­thing more durable, you can get a tin bank for $ 24.95. Also from Moon­jar is “ Con­ver­sa­tions to Go: The Game that Ques­tions Money” ($ 12.95). In a box that looks like Chi­nese take­out, you get 100 small card­board strips de­signed to pro­voke con­ver­sa­tions with your kids. Shake the box, and pull out ques­tions such as “ Does money buy hap­pi­ness?” or “ What is de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion?”

The ce­ramic Money Mama Piggy Bank ($ 29.95) is avail­able at Pros­per­i­ty4kids. com ( or call 866- PIGGY4U). This piggy bank — mama piggy and three piglets — has four slots in which chil­dren are en­cour­aged to di­vide their money four ways: 10 per­cent for char­ity, 10 per­cent for in­vest­ing, 10 per­cent to­ward sav­ings and 70 per­cent for ev­ery­day ex­penses. There is a color­ful, 48- page com­pan­ion sto­ry­book to go with the bank, “Money Mama & The Three Lit­tle Pigs,” both cre­ated by Cal­i­for­nia na­tive Lori Mackey. The book ($ 19.95) in­cludes a bonus read- along CD. The book, CD and piggy bank cost $ 47.90 as a pack­age.

Mackey has an al­lowance chart in which she rec­om­mends you fig­ure out how much you spend each month on the things your child wants, then make them do chores to earn that money. I wouldn’t put my kids on a fam­ily pay­roll. How­ever, if you in­sist your chil­dren work for their al­lowance, this chart pro­vides a fun and interactive way to con­nect chores to their pay.

New from Susan Beacham, an en­tre­pre­neur who pro­motes fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, is “ Money Savvy Kids @ Home.” This $ 29.99 pack­age, de­signed for chil­dren ages 6 to 11, in­cludes: K Money Savvy Pig piggy bank. The bank has four cham­bers la­beled save, spend, do­nate and in­vest. Pur­chased alone, the bank costs $ 15.99. K A 44- page soft­cover par­ent hand­book, a soft­cover work­book for the child and a col­or­ing and ac­tiv­ity book. K An eight- chap­ter CD- ROM in which Beacham walks you through talk­ing to your chil­dren about set­ting fi­nan­cial goals and mak­ing the right money choices. To or­der, go to www. mon­eysavvy­gen­er­a­tion. com or call 866- 390- 5959.

Fi­nally, In­tuit has de­vel­oped Quicken Kids & Money, a sub­scrip­tion- based Web site — www.quick­enkid­sand­money.com — for chil­dren ages 5 to 8. An in­tro­duc­tory of­fer, good through the end of April, is $ 69.99. Reg­u­lar price for a one- year mem­ber­ship is $ 99.99.

I ini­tially balked at the reg­u­lar price. But af­ter try­ing the Web site, I was hooked. Com­puter- savvy kids will love this site, which has sev­eral sec­tions, in­clud­ing one for par­ents, and a Kid­sZone. As part of your sub­scrip­tion, you’ll be sent four money pouches ( for up to four chil­dren) la­beled: shar­ing, quick cash, medium- term sav­ings and long- term sav­ings.

In­tuit has the right idea. Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy has to be­gin at home.

“ We be­lieve the most im­pact­ful place to help chil­dren learn about money is through their par­ents,” said Denise LaBuda, busi­ness leader for con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives at In­tuit. “ We are a cul­ture that re­ally doesn’t talk about money, but if we do demon­strate it, it’s mostly on the spend­ing side.”

LaBuda thinks that schools should play a part in teach­ing fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy but that be­cause our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is of­ten value- neu­tral, it is up to par­ents to make sure their chil­dren don’t leave home with­out the right money skills and val­ues.

As LaBuda put it: “ It’s hard to un­ravel the bad money habits once they be­come adults.”

If you are in­ter­ested in dis­cussing this month’s se­lec­tions or how to teach your child about money, join me on­line at www. wash­ing­ton­post. com at noon, Mon­day, April 23. As part of the monthly book club, I ran­domly se­lect read­ers to re­ceive a copy of books do­nated by the pub­lish­ers. The give­away this month will be all the prod­ucts fea­tured in this col­umn do­nated by the var­i­ous com­pa­nies. In ad­di­tion, In­tuit is do­nat­ing one- year subscriptions to Quicken Kids & Money. For a chance to win, send an e- mail to col­o­rof­money@ wash­post. com. Please in­clude your name, tele­phone num­ber and ad­dress. Only one prod­uct or sub­scrip­tion per house­hold.

Re­search and re­port­ing as­sis­tant Char­ity Brown con­trib­uted to this col­umn. K On the air: Michelle Sin­gle­tary dis­cusses per­sonal fi­nance Tues­days on NPR’s “ Day to Day” pro­gram and on­line at www.npr.org. K By mail: Read­ers can write to her at The Wash­ing­ton Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Wash­ing­ton, D. C. 20071. K By e- mail: sin­gle­tarym@ wash­post. com.

BY BILL WEB­STER — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

The Moon­jar money box has sec­tions for sav­ing, spend­ing and shar­ing.

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