The White House has launched a new interactive website for children and their parents called Money As You Grow: 20 Things Kids Need To Know To Live Financially Smart Lives. Ultimately, the goal of the website is to guide parents on how to teach their children about finances, saving for the future, and other money-related lessons.
The website features a fairly easy-to-use system, where the child (or parent) can click on the appropriate age group (3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-18, and 18+) and view four main lessons that they should either learn or be taught by their parents. When a lesson is clicked, several activities are listed that can reinforce that particular lesson. For example, under the age group of children that are 11 to 13-years-old, one lesson is, “You should save at least a dime for every dollar you receive.” From there, one of the activities listed to reinforce that lesson is, “Have your child set a goal to buy something he wants, and have him work toward that amount.”
The lessons and activities obviously grow more relevant and complex as the age bracket increases. For instance, in the oldest age group, one of the lessons is, “You should use a credit card only if you can pay off the money owed in full each month.” This is extremely age-appropriate given the fact that many students finishing high school are offered credit cards by the dozen. If not told to do otherwise, this can lead to financial problems that will follow the child for years, if not forever.
The idea is to create an environment where the child and parent are working together with the activities to learn the listed lesson. The website creates talking points for parents who may not know exactly where to start when it comes to talking to their kids about finances. Many parents do not even realize how important it is to instill ideals of saving and future-oriented thinking in their children at a young age. Furthermore, even if a parent is aware of the importance of these early conversations, they might not be aware of exactly which type of lessons are appropriate for which age groups.
Critics of the website and of the White House’s main objectives might say the website lacks depth and makes a complex situation seem far too simple. Other critics point out that fiscal responsibility is something that we should rely on families and our educational system to instill in our children, and not the federal government. Still others in opposition to the website have no problem with the goals of the website, but question the amount of money put toward funding this website while there are plenty of other pressing issues that need substantial funding from the federal government.
Although the website is certainly not going to solve all of our nation’s financial problems and it cannot (and does not attempt to) guarantee children exposed to these lessons will never face financial difficulty, it does create a starting point for discussion and education as to these issues. Given the ceaseless conversations and focus on the rising unemployment rate in our country, it seems like any conversation with children aimed to at least raise awareness is a good conversation to have. I think the website is an excellent base for a lot of growth, and if expanded, it could be an extremely beneficial tool for parents and children.
For a review of the website, see The Huffington Post’s article.