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The best thing to do today to teach kids about money

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When it comes to teaching your kids about finance, there’s no better way to start than a conversation.

Laura Levine, president and CEO of children’s financial literacy group JumpStart Coalition says that incorporating money conversations into your everyday activities is the best way to start teaching your children about money. And, she says, kids can start grasping these concepts as early as preschool.

By incorporating these conversations into everyday scenarios, kids can start to see examples where it’s relevant to them. Levine, who worked at FINRA and NASDAQ for 10 years, says there are lots of ways to start, and school supply shopping can be a great place to start with things like price comparing.

“You’re standing in that school supply aisle and saying, ‘Well, wait a second. If you get this generic brand, you can get more of them than the name brand,'” she says as an example. “If you just dash in there and say, ‘Here’s the shopping list, we gotta grab things and get out,’ you’re not actually conversing.”

By having these financial conversations over something as simple as school supply shopping, Levine says that it becomes easier for children to grasp these concepts.

For her son, it started with miniature cars. “There are Hot Wheels cars and Matchbox cars, and they’re about the same. But, one is $1.05 and one is $1.10,” Levine says. “I want to say he might have been about five and it dawned on him that they didn’t cost the same.”

There are plenty more places where you can involve your child in a financial decision, even when they’re small.

“You’re sitting at a restaurant and that the check comes,” Levine says. That’s a conversation point for asking, “Well, how much should we tip? Why do we tip?”

She says that incorporating the discussion into everyday life is a powerful way to help kids grasp the concepts at hand. “It isn’t having the great big talk, like the birds and the bees and everything else,” she says. “But rather, it’s those everyday conversations.”

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