The "Save Yourself" Financial Education Platform

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Parents often want to chat following a speech or seminar on financial education. Sometimes the topic is a horror story and an appeal for help. But what energizes me are the success stories of how parents helped their children learn good money management skills and behaviors.

One day, I realized parents' stories shared common elements. I've boiled those traits into four "keys to success." These four elements are the basis for our
"Save Yourself" Financial Education Platform. Those four elements are at left and summarized below.

If these make sense to you, the next step is simple: Subscribe to our
"Save Yourself" blog. That way, you will receive a steady stream of age-appropriate information formatted into these four areas. That makes it easier for you to implement your financial education program, because you're getting reminders and ideas.

Our approach isn't fancy, but it is practical and low-cost...and it works.
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Your child
needs a

Money Mentor
The first step is to identify a "Money Mentor" for your child. Often, that's the parent who handles the family's finances. But sometimes, a grandparent, aunt or uncle is well-suited for the role.

The
role of the money mentor is to ensure the child is regularly exposed to various age-appropriate financial topics and experiences. That starts with a piggy bank and learning to count change. It includes providing books, games and discussions about money. For older children, your talks may focus on jobs or debit cards. Even starting a mowing or babysitting business falls onto the Money Mentor's shoulders.

The goal is to be a coach and ensure the child is receiving age-appropriate knowledge, practicing key skills, and learning the desired behaviors. Someone needs to make learning about money a priority.

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Teach your
child to

"Save Yourself"
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The single, most-important accomplishment a parent can make in financial education is instilling a money-saving mentality.

A child committed to regular savings is inclined to make smart choices between wants and needs, to practice spending discipline and to accumulate wealth. A parent can leverage the child's success with saving to teach additional lessons. For example, a parent can encourage a child to spend his own money for particular items.This provides a discussion springboard for topics like how to budget for major items like a car or college. None of this is possible if the child lacks the
"save yourself" mentality.

Once someone takes responsibility for saving - once he/she has a "skin-in-the-game" mentality, then consistent attitudes toward spending start to evolve.

Help your child learn to save early, and aggressively support his/her effort.

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Explain your family's
Money
Values
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Family money values explain why you manage money the way you do.

This area is often the hardest and most important category of work for parents. It is difficult because parents seldom take the time to sort out their money values. Once defined, there is the work of communicating and practicing your family's money values, habits and behaviors.

Examples of money values include the amount (%) of savings, how credit is used, how much money is shared, what household jobs earn extra "pay" or not, even the family's attitudes toward who pays for college tuition and giving allowances are values.

Who do you want to instill money values with your children, if you don’t do it?

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Watch for
Money Moments
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Children go through developmental phases when they are interested and capable of learning new knowledge, skills and behaviors. We call those Money Moments, or "just-in-time" learning. Parents can recognize these Money Moments and plan how to react.

These range from the very simple activities, such as counting money, to more complex concepts like investing and borrowing. With some practice and prodding from us, you can learn to recognize and capitalize on "Money Moments."

Don't stress out about it.
Parents who touch on one or two Money Moments for a few minutes a week or so can have a huge impact.
Stay Connected for More Ideas

These four steps can provide the basis of your plan. They are all common-sense steps that will increase the odds your child is prepared to manage his/her finances as a young adult. My final bit of advice is to stay connected with us through our blog, Twitter, Pinterest and newsletter.
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