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What Your Kids Need to Know About Money

Kathy M. Kristof is a contributor to

Google "Teaching kids about money," and you'll get 225 million hits on everything from camps to games to gadgets, all aimed at educating youth about saving, budgeting, investing, and the economy. And it's a good thing, too, because we're counting on our kids to do a lot better than we did. We need the next generation to be hugely productive (the better to earn enough to pay Social Security benefits), we need them to save a lot more than we did, and we need them to stay the heck out of debt (no more subprime and credit-card crises).

Unfortunately, they're not learning much of this at school. The average 12th-grader last year scored a sorry 48 percent on the annual Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy Test. In 1997, the average score was 57 percent. That's the wrong direction.

Bottom line: It's up to you to set your kids on the right path. Keep it simple, tailor the teaching to your child's age, and make it fun. Now, let the lessons begin.

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