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Why The Mint?

Impressionable and vulnerable, targeted by advertisers, and under peer pressure, teens, tweens and preteens have a tough time. The latest clothing, computers, cell phones, electronic games, and more are all “must have” products. Countering these messages is tough for parents.

What kids don’t understand

The Jump$tart Coalition on Financial Literacy measures the financial knowledge of 12th graders across the country. Student scores on the most recent (2008) personal finance test averaged 48.3%. A failing grade by any standard.

  • 52%, a majority of high school seniors don’t understand the advantage of paying more than the minimum required by their credit card provider. Consider the numbers below that describe teen credit-card usage.
    • 35% of 12th graders use a credit card
      • 15% of those students have their own credit card
      • 14% use a parent’s card
      • The rest use both their own and their parent’s card

While 12th graders may know how to wield a credit card, they don’t really understand how the card works. What’s more, they are unlikely to learn this lesson in school. The truth is that very few high schools insert any personal finance instruction into their curriculum. Only 21.4% of students in the last survey reported having an entire course in money management or personal finance

What this means

High school seniors continue to graduate without the skills needed to think, to choose, and to manage money in a changing global economy. Many cannot balance a checkbook, and most simply have no insight into the basic survival principles involved in earning, spending, saving, and investing money.

Parent’s role

Family, not experts, is the greatest influence in shaping young Americans’ attitudes and behaviors. Yet many of today’s adults did not discuss money matters with their parents. As a result, many do not know how to talk to their children.

Northwestern Mutual delved into the subject of children’s financial literacy in a recent survey of parents. The study reinforces the importance of an open dialogue between parents and children regarding money matters. It also points out some inconsistencies among beliefs and actions. Look at these findings.

Parents say that they place a great deal of importance on teaching children about money. Almost half believe that age 5 is the most appropriate age to teach children about money. Most feel children should learn about money no later than first grade.

Half say they have spent a good deal of time teaching their oldest child about money. Yet most parents reported that they have not discussed more complicated or sensitive money issues, such as credit cards, debt, investing, and their family’s personal financial situation.

Half don’t think they are modeling good money management behavior. Neither do they feel capable of teaching their children to do so.

Starting now

Clearly, our kids need to be better prepared. They need to become smart about money. And parents must play their role so that when today’s children become adults, they avoid making mistakes with long-term financial consequences. This web site has been developed to help children learn to manage money intelligently and help the adults in their lives take an active role in those lessons.