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Financially Fit Kids

Getting finances in order is at the top of many New Year's resolution lists. So why not expand that resolution to include teaching your children more about money? In her book, "Raising Financially Fit Kids," Joline Godfrey explains why it's so important and how to do it effectively. The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler reports.

More and more, children are the targets of marketing experts and they need to be armed to defend themselves financially. But it is really about more than good money management.

"It's about character and values," says Godfrey. "So many times, parents will say to me, 'What do you do to keep this kid from growing up this little consumer monster?' And really, what they're saying is, 'How do I give them good values and give them discipline and responsibility?' And it turns out that financial savvy or financial education is a wonderful vehicle for making your child think in ways other than just to be a materialist."

Here is Godfrey's list of things a child should know by the time he's 18:

  1. How to save.
  2. How to keep track of money.
  3. How to get paid what you're worth.
  4. How to spend wisely.
  5. How to talk about money.
  6. How to live on a budget.
  7. How to invest.
  8. How to exercise entrepreneurial spirit. This does not mean that every child in America should know how to run his own business. Entrepreneurial skills, explains Godfrey, are about self-initiation and discipline – how to take care of your own financial safety net, whether running a non-profit, working in a large company or running your own company.
  9. How to handle credit.
  10. How to change the world. This refers to philanthropy but also about becoming independent and powerful having self-confidence. "It turns out," says Godfrey, "philanthropy is one of the best vehicles for giving them those feelings. We talk a lot about role models who do change the world by being in charge of money." These role models include Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and even Mother Theresa.
When it comes to determining your children's allowances, Godfrey says not the worry about their ages. Remember that allowance is not an entitlement, but a tool that will help your children earn and learn how to handle money. Godfrey says children are very quick to understand that concept.

"Sit down with the kid and look at: 'What are you spending money on every week?' And if you're spending money, you personally, on fast food or juice for breakfast or whatever, make that a budget and talk about it with them. They're pretty clever. Very early on, they can start dealing with budgets. The earlier, the better. It's like brushing teeth."

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