Book Review: Why didn't they teach me this in school?

This is a follow up to an earlier post featuring books about money that your teen might actually read.

Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School? 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By, by Cary Siegel is an easy-to-read list of practical tips and topics the author developed to share with his own kids.

Most principles are only a single page long, concise and easy to absorb quickly. Not a lot of math here. Instead the author focuses on practical guidance he's given his own kids.

Each principle starts with a large, bold headline so it would also be easy for your teen (and you) to simply flip through the book, read those 99 headlines and get some good reminders along with the main concepts.

Some of the suggestions (take care of your "stuff," don't try to keep up with the Joneses) will sound like the very things you've been telling your kids all along. You might have your own perspectives on a few, like "marry the 'financially right' person" or "it's OK to overpay the IRS (by a little) over the course of the year."

Either way, it's a good conversation starter. I like the practical, plainspoken approach this dad of five takes. It will be easy to hand this book to my busy teen and even if he only reads the titles on each page, he'll come away with some nuggets.


Money Books Teens Will Read

I'm looking for a quick and easy read for my busy teen.

Over the past few months we've talked about the basics surrounding money and credit, opened a teen checking account and implemented some day-to-day things to keep concepts about money front and center. Now I'd like something that can he can read at his leisure that's not "from mom."

It's got to be pretty short, relevant, concise, current and most of all, interesting to a teen. Tall order.

My search led me to two resources to share.
photo by picjumbo

5 Books on Money Your Teen (or Young Adult) Might Actually Read
This list from 2016 was posted by Time.com's Money. While none of these books look like the right fit for my teen, there may be something here that catches your eye. I've read the No. 3 recommendation, Loaded: Money, Psychology, and How to Get Ahead Without Leaving Your Values Behind by Sarah Newcomb. While I enjoyed it I don't think it's a great first book about finance for a teen if you're looking for lots of how-to and nuts and bolts information.

6 Must-Read Personal Finance Books Every Teen Should Read
This is a more recent (2017) list, and the one I'll work from. If I find any gems I will share them here. I don't have any recommendations yet with the exception of Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley. It's dated, but a classic.

Bonus:
For those with siblings there are some adorable books to introduce money to the younger set. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests these titles, geared primarily to ages 4 and up. These are a part of the Money As You Grow book club, a family financial education program. Check to see if your local library hosts a Money As You Grow book club here, or download discussion guides from the website to use at home.


8 Easy Ways Teens Can Learn About Money Every Day

Teaching our kids financial literacy feels so…scary. It sounds like a weighty, complicated topic that takes a lot of time. But hang in there for just a second, because it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

While there are a lot of topics, like earning, saving, investing and credit, that need more in-depth conversations, a lot of basic “how to” can be covered in your daily life with your teen.

Here are eight ideas for helping your teen become a little more financially literate every day. These aren’t the big sit down conversations about college or life. These are mini-lessons on the fly that have worked for me. Depending on the age of your kids (these apply mostly to teens) you can probably think of a ton more.

Writing checks
Yes, we occasionally still do write a check around my house and when we do, I hand it to my teen. Not only do I suspect that at some point - maybe only a handful of times, but at some point - in his life he will need to know this, I want him to see the process involved. It makes him stop and think about the amount and gives me a chance to explain the context, like maybe that I’m writing a check versus paying online because I save a transaction fee that way.
Photo: ISO Republic

Reviewing bank statements
If your teen has a checking or savings account, their online statement is probably delivered to you since it’s a custodial account. I print it out for my teen to look at and compare to his hand-written check ledger. There’s not much activity so it’s easy for him to spot errors. Somehow he never fails to spot any missing allowance payments his mom overlooked the month before.

Research charitable organizations
Sadly, there have been a lot of opportunities to give lately due to national and international disasters. If my teen is interested in giving I ask him to use Charity Navigator or Guidestar to become familiar with the organization just a little before he sends money. Then he deducts it from his “charitable giving” savings. If he’s giving locally he starts with SHARE Charlotte to learn about how a particular organization works to make our area better.

Save receipts
Any time my teen uses his debit card I ask that he keep the receipt to bring home and enter in his checkbook. As he manually records each purchase it puts his declining balance and the choices he's just made with those funds front and center.

Clip coupons
I don’t actually ask my teen to clip them, but I do involve him in using them, or at least comparing prices in the store. My teen does not love grocery shopping but when he’s with us we routinely ask him to go find us the “best deal” on an item and talk about his selection when he (eventually) comes back.

Make ATM deposits
Making ATM withdrawals seems to be an innate skill for most teens I’ve met. It’s the deposit process that they find unfamiliar. When I have a deposit to make, in the branch or (typically) via an ATM I try to involve my teen.

Shredding 
Every once in a while, hand your teen the credit card offers that you receive in the mail. Look at some of the fine print with them, then sit down in front of the shredder. It’s a great time to spend a couple minutes talking (loudly) about why you’re not interested in the offer and ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

Pay in cash
Our teens live in the virtual world, and to a large extent so do we. Carry a little cash and have your teen use it to pay for small family purchases. This forces them to pay more attention to the process of spending and gives them a chance to make sure they get the right change.

An app for that? Five financial apps for your teen.


It's never been easier to help your child manage spending and saving. In fact, there's an app for that.

This is great news for me, because I'm all for simplifying processes. My plan has always been to use a couple different accounts with my teen, both locally and at an online bank (where we can typically get a better interest rate). I'm also exploring options to help him put a toe into the water regarding investing. For charitable giving he uses our local gem of a resource SHARE Charlotte and periodically gives to several international charities as well. As for how much of his existing funds are designated for giving, well, that's on a regularly-updated post-it note stuck to the inside of an old, repurposed checkbook.

It's a little bit of a disjointed experience for him, so when I saw this Wall Street Journal article highlight five apps or mobile-friendly sites that can be used to help kids save, spend and donate, I decided to check it out.

All the services featured share some similarities (some are free, most have pretty low monthly or annual fees). All appear user friendly and easy to use. See below for my thoughts on their differences and when they might be the best fit.

BusyKid
BusyKid shares many features with the other apps listed but what caught my attention was the added benefit of allowing kids to buy and sell fractional shares of stock. This is done through a partnership with Stockpile. You'll be asked to open a custodial account and according to the BusyKid website there is a $2.99 fee per transaction. This feature was unique to all five services featured, so worth a look if it's something interesting for your teen. BusyKid also provides a set list of charities to which your child can donate. As of now you aren't able to add any additional charities, although that's coming in the future.

Chore Check
This is more of a straight up "chores for allowance" app. Again, it looks very easy to use. Because our family doesn't pay allowance based on specific chores, it's not a good fit for us. But it's a nice option if you are looking for something a little more straightforward without the layered functionality of some of the other apps featured.

Current
Current has several really useful features like the ability to automate allowance, limit and block spending in certain categories and automate savings by "rounding up" purchases. As for giving, if the charity your child is interested in isn't listed, the company says they are willing to add it. I also like the ability to use this with an existing bank account. Current, along with several other of these apps, also makes it easy for kids to separate their spend, save and give "wallets." That's a bigger deal than it sounds like, and much easier than trying to keep records manually.

FamZoo
This app is also a prepaid debit card with many of the benefits of Current. What I love about FamZoo is the amount of financial literacy they build into their product design and marketing. Creative touches include a parent-paid interest option, informal loan tracking (you can charge your child an interest rate if you want to), ability to set savings goals, etc. Follow founder Bill Dwight (@FamZoo) for a steady stream of good ideas around kids and financial literacy.

Greenlight
Greenlight is more of a pure spending app for your child. Key features that set it apart include the ability to pre-approve activity down to a specific store. This app will keep it simple and is great if your family already has a plan in place for saving and giving with a primary goal of finding a pre-paid card with a lot of parental control.


Now that I've spent some time with each these five services, will we be switching to any of them? Probably not. The processes we have in place now may be a little clunky, but they work pretty well for us (and they meet some other goals that we have as a family) and so we're sticking with our current systems. As for charitable giving, my teen is more of a "free range" giver, as he explores causes and methods of giving that are meaningful to him. I'd hate to limit him to a more narrow list of options.

So while I'm interested in the investing ability through BusyKid, and I particularly love the depth of FamZoo, I think we will stay with the homegrown system we currently have. If I had it to do over again, I would very likely consider these options and probably start with a deeper dive into FamZoo.

Whether you decide to go with one of these services or come up with your own system, allow me to climb on my soapbox one final time, please. Most of these apps allow kids and parents to communicate via text and online messaging, which I think is fantastic since my teen seems to forget how to dial a phone on a regular basis (but can always remember how to text). But, successful financial literacy requires lots of parent involvement. No app or online education can take the place of the coaching and conversations we should have with our kids about money and managing it successfully. Ideally, all this great tech can support that one on one time.


WhatsMyScore.org helps prep your college students for the real world

As I watch friends pack up college-aged kids and head off to campuses around the country it hit me: these kids need to have a solid foundation in financial literacy. Not just "need" like you need a good slice of pizza every once in a while, but they need it in a life-changing you-better-make-sure-you-got-this kind of way.

So while you're waiting for your first "proof of life" text or email, I hope this resource will be just the productive distraction you need.

I've already written about Visa's Practical Money Skills website in an earlier post as a great find for middle and high school aged kids. Whatsmyscore.org is Visa's offering for college students. It focuses primarily on credit but you'll find some other good stuff in there as well. 

Different parts of the site will appeal to different students depending on where they are in their college journey. The list below is divided by the stage your child is in--either a college freshman or just heading out into the real, post-college world.

New to college
Money Guides - Look here for help with renting a car, thinking about housing, saving money on textbooks and more. 
Break the Code - Quick dive into choosing the best credit card, what goes into a credit score and how to look at your credit report. If they are up for it have them look over The Facts for some quick "do's and don'ts" of credit.
Money101 Student Workbook - It's not nearly as awful as the word "workbook" makes it sound. In fact it's an easy read, full of really relevant info for kids about to be on their own for the first time, with topics like good record keeping, which I love. If you aren't comfortable walking your kid through the process when you reconcile your own bank account, this workbook has a simplified example on page 19 that will do the trick. 

Graduating college
Welcome to the Real World - Information on paperwork and taxes, budgeting and student loans. 
The Facts - Helpful even if your college graduate is comfortable with concepts around credit and debt, particularly "7 Common Mistakes That Can Lower Your Credit Score."





Mom, what if there's another recession?

Kids say the darndest things.

Along with worrying about whether or not they have a date for the homecoming dance and how to finally get rid of that acne, teens today seem to have some pretty weighty issues on their minds. The smart phone in their pocket brings the world, with its political complications and economic upheavals, right to them.

My teen is no exception. Recently he asked "Mom, what if we have another recession?"

Whether I answered his question sufficiently is up for debate, but I'll list the points I made in my response (below) along with a few resources you can use if you're faced with a similar situation.

In trying to develop financial literacy skills in my teen, I'm always working for balance. That means I'm trying not to overload him with so many details that he glazes over, but give him enough data so it's real. Although he's asking about a recession, don't get hung up on technical definitions. What he really wants to know is "will we be okay if something unexpected happens."

Here's what I told my teen.

- It's not really a question of "if" we will have another recession, but "when."
- That said, while the recession in 2008-2009 is the one many teens will be thinking about, there have been many others (here are a few).
- I told him (briefly) about the savings and loan crisis that closed the S&L in our town and the dot-com bust that came later.
- People lost jobs and money in both. But (and here was the important part as far as my teen was concerned) we came through it in the end.
- As a family we believe two ways to weather storms like a recession or crisis are to build up our emergency fund and diversify our investments.

We'd already worked through some of the resources on the #FinLit Menu for Parents (like fun this TedED video about economic bubbles and tulips). That made the whole conversation a lot easier for both of us.

VISA's Practical Money Skills provides
tips for building an emergency fund.
That's how I handled it. You might find a different or better way, based on your family's situation. However you decide to approach it, here are some resources you might find helpful.

Building an Emergency Fund
Publisher: Practical Money Skills by VISA

What causes economic bubbles? 
Publisher: TEDEd

The dot com bubble explained in one minute
Publisher: One Minute Economics

Savings and Loan Crisis
Publisher: Federal Reserve History

A Review of Past Recessions
Publisher: Investopedia

Financial Concepts: Diversification
Publisher: Investopedia

Planning for the Unexpected
Publisher: Practical Money Skills by VISA

What Causes Business Cycles?
Publisher: Practical Money Skills by VISA

Deeper Dive: Practical Money Skills by VISA

You'll find this post most helpful if:
- you're a parent with a pre-teen or teenager.
- you're looking for a one-stop solution for boosting your child's financial literacy and you're wondering if Practical Money Skills fits the bill.

Things you should know:
- Practical Money Skills is part of VISA's long-term efforts to develop education programs for people of all ages.
- The resource is free. No login or account is required.

Things I like:
- Practical Money Skills provides a huge variety of resources for teachers and individuals (or parents).

- Games. I love a good game. Check out Money Metropolis (ages 7-12) and Financial Football (ages 11 and up). Financial Football is an NFL-themed game developed by Visa in partnership with the NFL. If your child is into soccer, they've got that covered with Financial Soccer. The games are designed to be used as a classroom tool and lesson plans are provided, but parents can use them as a stand alone (fun!) activity. Use the info threaded throughout game play to spark conversations.

- A wealth of free materials including apps for everything from budgeting for prom to tracking what you spend on lunch. As for me, I'm most excited about their two comic books (featuring Marvel's Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy).

Kid-friendly resources from Practical Money Skills
- There is no shortage of good info in this section for parents as well, including primers on budgeting, prepaid credit cards and identity theft. Most can be downloaded right from the website although the comic books need to be shipped (within 3-4 weeks of ordering). I'm a Marvel geek so it will be interesting to see who gets to the mailbox first, me or my teenager.

- If you're looking for something your kid can work through on their own, start to finish, check out Your Money, Your Future. This section seems best for pre-teens and young teens. It covers the basics under the categories of earn, save, budget, spend, borrow, protect and give. These really are primers, so if your teen has some previous experience with financial education this may prove too basic.

- If you need something that's a little more in-depth look at the Learn section of the website. Because it's largely text-based (versus games) it will be a better fit for teens and young adults. Topics covered include saving, budgeting, financial institutions, credit, debt and identify theft. This is where you'll find info about the Rule of 72, compound interest and a check writing/deposit slip demo. The section on credit does a nice job of defining common terms and discussing what it takes to maintain a good credit score.

- You'll also see a section on Life Events which will be a good resource for your college-bound senior (topics include going to college and buying a car). If your teen or young adult really wants to geek out on financial terms and concepts, check out Economy 101. It's where they will find short explanations of business cycles, monetary policy, human capital and more. It's not a bad resource for parents as well. In fact, I'm heading over for a refresher course right after I finish this post.

Prepaid cards are also covered a little more than I've seen in some other resources. I have not used prepaid cards, and there are differing opinions on whether they are the best way to introduce kids to financial products. However there are a number of providers you can go through to get them. The one I hear about the most frequently is FamZoo. I have not researched their offering, but I'm happy to hear about your experiences with them if you have.

Bottom Line
Practical Money Skills by VISA has something for everyone. I really like the breadth of their offering. It will work for your pre-teen, teen or college age student. Just use the information above to zero in on the part that works best for you.

Deeper Dive: Warren Buffet's Secret Millionaires Club

You'll find this post most helpful if:
- you're a parent with an elementary school age child.
- you're looking for a one-stop solution for boosting your child's financial literacy and you're wondering if Warren Buffet's Secret Millionaires Club (SMCKids) fits the bill.

Things to know:
- SMCKids is a free, online financial literacy resource designed for kids.
- The site is sponsored by Genius Brands International and features Warren Buffet as one of several animated characters.
- No account or login is needed to use the site or work through the activities.

Things I like:
- The content is well presented and delivered almost entirely through animated video (webisodes) and comics (both digital and PDF, which is cool) and games. It's all geared toward holding the attention of older elementary and even middle school age kids.
- This resource covers a wide range of what I would consider to be foundational topics, from saving to debt with life lessons thrown in for good measure (learn from your mistakes, build a good reputation).
- Who doesn't love a well designed game? There are four games available on this website but Number Blaster and Counting Money are the two that kids will be drawn to immediately. The other "games" include a quiz and a business building exercise. Interesting, but I don't think kids will think of it as a game.

Things I'm not crazy about:
- I actually really like this resource for younger kids, although I think teens might not be as enthusiastic about the presentation.
My high-tech way of helping my
teen practice making change.
- There isn't much here for teens in the way of topics like checking, savings, student loans, etc. but that's not what this resource was intended to do.

Bottom line:
This resource is geared toward elementary and possibly middle school age kids. It's really well presented and I think younger kids will enjoy watching the webisodes and being introduced to the wisdom of the Sage of Omaha (Warren Buffet) through a medium they enjoy.

I will share this website with my friends who have younger kids, but I plan to have my teen go through the Counting Money game for some extra practice. Side note: you can also do a version of this game at home using real coins and some paper "bills." We've done this a few times on the kitchen table with money from the loose change jar. It's a good way to reinforce the concept and it gave me a chance to share some of my own teenager horror stories from my fast food register days! I'm sure your teen will love hearing your stories about as much as mine did :)



Deeper Dive: The Mint by Northwestern Mutual

You'll find this post most helpful if:
- you're a parent with a child aged (roughly) 10 through young adult.
- you're looking for a one-stop solution for boosting your child's financial literacy and you're wondering if The Mint fits the bill.
Note: don't confuse this resource with Mint.com, which is a money management tool provided by Intuit.


Things to know:
- TheMint.org is a free, online financial literacy resource designed for kids, teens and college students.
- The site is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual.
- No account or login is needed to use the site or work through the activities.
- Once you decide which section you and your teen are interested in (see below), you can hand the laptop or tablet to them, so there is no need to create a curriculum from scratch (although I recommend ongoing family discussions about topics covered). Do check out the caveats below to make sure the content will hold your teen's interest.

Things I like:
- A good range of topics is covered for teens: earning, saving, spending, owing, tracking, giving, investing, safeguarding. If you're looking for a more robust discussion on investing, check out the #FinLit Menu for Parents for some ideas. The Mint stays pretty general and covers a few topics (like series EE bonds) that will be of little interest to your young teen).

- I really like the simple approach to explaining the Rule of 72 Calculator and the ability to play with the concept in an interactive exercise.

- In fact, I liked a number of the calculators and tools on the site. The Spending Challenge takes students through a virtual 16 week time period and presents them with unexpected expenses and choices (takes 5-10 minutes to complete). The Debt Calculator is also easy to use and interesting for teens and older kids.

- Check writing is covered, with an interactive exercise that lets your teen fill one out virtually. Hurray! (The down side is there is no discussion of current payment transfer tools, like Venmo, Square Cash or PayPal, which are the types of tools teens will be more likely to use).

- Why is $10 saved on a $39.95 purchase worth more than $10 saved on a $1,099 purchase? Answer: it's not, and Tricks Our Minds Play With Money is an eye-opening (for me, anyway) discussion about our perceptions of money that's worth having your teen read.

- This resource is really easy to navigate. The amount of content on most pages is kept manageable, a lot of the content is interactive and links are easy to locate.

- TheMintGrad is actually a separate site that looks up to date and may prove helpful for your college age student. I did not review it, but you can check it out here.

Things I'm not crazy about:
- The content on the site is dated. The references to iPods and a lack of info about current money transfer tools like Venmo could make your teen tune out early on. The "The Truth About Millionaires Quiz" uses data from 1998 (although the general points it makes are still relevant). Interest rate examples don't reflect the current rate environment, FDIC coverage amounts listed for money market accounts are outdated, etc.

None of these are necessarily deal breakers but might turn your teen off and will certainly require some additional coaching from you. If you use this resource I would suggest keeping the focus on the concepts covered (which are good) and letting your teen know a number of the details have changed.


Bottom line:
You can hand this website to your teen and ask them to go through it, knowing they will cover a lot of the basics. However, the content is dated in some places and the writing might seem stilted to a teenager. There are no references to some of topics that are relevant to today's teens (like cash transfer apps) and that you might think are important (like online security, or the effect of inflation on money).

It may be more effective if you point them to the specific sections and exercises you think are relevant and use some of the other resources in the #FinLit Menu for Parents to round out the content.




Do teens need to learn to balance a checkbook?

Once your teen opens a checking account it becomes pretty apparent that she needs to learn how to balance a checkbook. Or does she?

Most of us just don't write many checks anymore. A Federal Reserve study in 2016 showed a sharp decline in check writing over the past decade and a half. In fact, a lot of the activity in a typical checking account is made up of anything but checks (debit card transactions, automatic deposits and withdrawals and the like).

So if we aren't writing checks, are we balancing our check registers in the traditional (old-school-way-that-mom-did-it) sense? A lot of people aren't. Once I thought about it, I realized I wasn't either. I love the time saving features of online banking and personal finance software and I'm even warming up to some of the mobile cash payment apps.

Still, checks aren't going anywhere soon for a number of reasons. That means your teen not only needs to know how to write a check, but understand how and why money flows in and out of her account.

With that in mind my teen worked with a paper and pen register for a good long while before transitioning fully online. But that might not be your approach. However you tackle it, here are some resources to help you get started.

How to balance a checkbook
These instructions from NerdWallet are straightforward and can give your teen an idea of how and why balancing a checking account on a regular (if not monthly) basis is a good idea. The article also links to budgeting apps like You Need a Budget (YNAB) and Mint.

Personal finance software
Even if you still somehow manage your finances on paper (don't worry, it's our secret), your teen won't. Here's a comparison of personal finance software from InvestorJunkie and a few more from nerdwallet).

Deeper Dive: CashCourse by NEFE

You'll find this post most helpful if
- you're a parent with an older teen or new college student.
- you're looking for a one-stop solution for boosting your teen's financial literacy and you're wondering if CashCourse fits the bill.

Things to know
- CashCourse is a free, online financial literacy resource for college students, created by the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). Take a video tour (under two minutes) to get an idea of the look and feel of the program. It's easy to set up a free account and go through the materials even if you're not affiliated with a participating college or university.

- The material is written with college students in mind so some of the topics like buying a first car, managing financial aid and paying for a wedding may seem a little abstract for younger teens. If your teen's college experience is in the near future, a lot of the content will be of interest.

- Once you familiarize yourself with the broad topics to see if they cover what you and your teen are interested in (see below), you can hand the laptop or tablet to them, so there is no need to create a curriculum from scratch (although I recommend ongoing family discussions about topics covered).  There are a few exceptions that you might want to know about. Financial Roadmap for Parents is somewhat oddly inserted under Save & Invest, but most content is directly created for your teen/young adult.


Things I like
- Topics are arranged in a logical order: Earn, Save & Invest, Protect, Spend, Borrow and Pay for Education. There are also some handy tools that can be used along with the topics or on their own. like easy-to-use financial calculators (favorites of mine: "How long will it take to pay off my credit card(s)?" and "How will payroll adjustments affect my take-home pay?"). The Budget Wizard is easy to run and easy to customize. The Financial Experts section of the site gives users a chance for some Q&A with folks who know their stuff when it comes to financial independence.

- The course covers things I might not have thought to include if I were putting a list of topics together on my own, like budgeting for an unpaid internship and calculating your future salary. I want my teen to love his chosen field, but I also want him to go in with eyes wide open as far as potential earnings if he decides to be, for instance, an itinerant poet versus an electrical engineer.

- If you and your teen are already well into the college and financial aid process the information included in Pay for Education might be too basic. Otherwise, it's a good introduction to the topic.

- The discussion on the pros and cons of credit and debit cards goes into a little more detail than I've seen in other sources (for instance, explaining that your teen can be held accountable for $500 worth of unauthorized purchases if you do not report a debit card theft within 48 hours). But I still like this 8 minute video from a different source as a very general tour of the general differences between the two cards. If you're using CashCourse as your primary tool for financial literacy, maybe throw in that video as well for some context and variety.

- Risk and reward is covered minimally, but I think it's a good concept to work into any discussion about saving and investing. Side note: in the two years (2012 and 2015) that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has measured financial literacy, which includes the concept of risk, 15 year olds in the U.S. have been stunningly...average. More worrisome, the results showed that about 22% of our teens don't reach a baseline level of proficiency. (Here are the 2015 rankings by country, if you're interested.)

- Consequences of not paying your bills and five things to know if a debt collector calls are both topics that I haven't seen elsewhere but are covered (briefly) here.

- I just love the way the tricky concept of credit score is presented. "Think of your credit score as a kind of financial GPA: Your goal is to keep improving it, and then maintain it when it’s the highest you can achieve."

- Generally speaking, I like the wide variety of topics covered here, from the costs of owning a pet to what to think about if the plan is to study abroad.


Things I'm not crazy about
- Some of the advice doesn't match up with my own experience, or with what I tell my teen. For instance, when it comes to negotiating salary increases, CashCourse suggests "instead of waiting for your company’s routine review period, ask for a bump up in your salary right after you have accomplished something valuable for the company." Hmmm. I think it's great to ask for an increase if you feel it's merited. But there's no sentence after this one that explains the realities, particularly in large companies, of salary bands, scheduled performance reviews and other compensation quirks of corporate America. In other words, my advice would be to go ahead and ask, but understand if the answer is "no" that isn't necessarily a reason to head for the nearest exit in a huff.

- Information specific to investments is short and sweet. But if that's an area your teen is particularly interested in there are a lot of other resources available. CashCourse lists a few and you can find more in the Capital Markets section of one of my earlier posts.

- There are several sections that seem more like collections of (very) loosely related articles versus a cohesive plan. You'll find advice about adding staples to your Amazon.com order to save shipping under the Fraud section. Huh?  The section about auto insurance actually only has content on health coverage. Whoops. Still, I like that there is a lot of basic starter-type of information about insurance (health, life, renters, etc.) there for young adults to work through.


Bottom line
Since this site is geared toward older teens and college students, the topic-oriented approach they take (versus a linear, curriculum type of structure) is probably right on target. It's more like the menu approach I used in an earlier post. So while I think it could potentially be a little overwhelming for a 14 year old, a student heading off to college in the fall might find it to be just what they need.

Final note: if you liked CashCourse you might also like another NEFE resource, 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know.




Start here: The #FinLit Menu for Parents

When my son entered his teens I started to get serious about financial literacy in a way I should have been years before. 

The good news is there are many resources out there for parents to use as they work through concepts with their kids. That's also the bad news. The number of websites, worksheets and articles can be overwhelming.

Let me clarify though, most resources are designed for use in schools. That's great, but I was looking for tools to use at home. Some of my parenting friends were in the same predicament, so as I found resources I shared them. Eventually I decided to put them in one spot - right here. (Note: scroll down to skip the rest of this intro and go right to the menu.)

If you are at a similar place in your personal finance journey with your teen, this list might also be helpful to you.

A few things to keep in mind:

- This was creating with teens (middle school to early-high school ages) in mind.
- I originally started with a list of resources I'd used with my own teenager, but it's grown now to include resources that I have not used personally.
- Personal finances are just that - personal. Knowing that, I'm offering up this list as a helpful tool, not as a recommended path for your family or your kids.
- All of the resources shown below are FREE.
- This list isn't exhaustive by ANY stretch. I've missed stuff, plus I've left off a number of sites that were just a little too boring or complex (in my view).

This is a "menu" because it's intended to be something you can pick and choose from as you see things you like. However, if you'd rather have a complete curriculum with minimal muss and fuss, you'll find resources that are "plug and play" at the end of this post. As a bonus, after that you'll find short reviews on a few financial games & apps I've come across in my journey over the past few months. 

This list will probably change as I discover (or you share with me) better or additional resources. I hope you find this helpful!

- Kimberly



Checking
Will your teen be writing checks as a young adult? Probably not many according to some sources. But they should still know the basics.

Helping your teen manage a checking account
Publisher: Better Money Habits, powered by Bank of America and Khan Academy
Seven minute video geared toward parents (not your teens). Most of this info will be old news to parents of older teens, but if you're just starting to consider opening a checking account with your child this is a good primer.

How to write a check in six easy steps
Publisher: nerdwallet
Short online demonstration. Have your teen read the brief FAQ section below for the things not addressed in the demo.

How to balance a checkbook
Publisher: nerdwallet
Short online demonstration. Another lost art form will be manually balancing a paper check register. But the concepts are still important, even if your teen opts to track transactions via an app versus on paper.

10 ways to protect your checking account
Publisher: Discover.com
Infographic. I actually had no idea what a skimmer was until reading this. Get more info on that particular topic from CreditCards.com here: Gas station skimmer theft rising

7 bank fees you probably don't know about
Publisher: nerdwallet
Article. Short and to the point, and covers some of the fees you might forget to talk to your teen about (and the bank probably won't mention them when they are opening the account).

Note: Not everyone has a checking account. If you're in one of these households, I know some of the links above won't be helpful to you. If you have any resources you think other parents would benefit from knowing about please send me a note.

Savings
6 minute video with relevant info. You might want to watch it first to see if it will be engaging for your teen.

Publisher: Practical Money Skills, by VISA
Worksheet based. Designed for grades 9-12, covers financial skills like managing salary, buying a car and avoiding debt. We worked through selected lessons, like Lesson 4 (Cost of College).

FINRA Foundation also produces a series of lessons on earning interest for middle school students.

Publisher: SaveandInvest.org by FINRA Foundation
One minute video. A little silly but short and sweet. Encourages an emergency savings fund equal to 3 months of expenses. 

Publisher: Practical Money Skills, by VISA
Worksheet based. Scroll down to Lesson 19.

Biz Basics: The Rule of 72
Publisher: DardenMBA
4 minute video, super easy to follow and a great tool for teens as they think about earning interest on savings.
Note: For an easy-to-use Rule of 72 calculator see TheMint.Org.

Budgeting
Publisher: Practical Money Skills by VISA
Worksheet based, Lesson 9.

6 steps to help a middle or high school budget 
Publisher: Bank of America
Short article, just the basics with a few ideas for the types of expenses a middle or high school student might pay (cell phone bill, etc).

4 Best Personal Finance Apps for 2017
Publisher: Investopedia.com
Does anyone keep a budget on a piece of paper anymore? I don't, although I haven't taken the leap to using an app for that quite yet. But my teen is much more comfortable using apps than I am. Investopedia lists these four as the best out there right now for personal finance. 

Credit
"Credit and Debit: Two very different cards"
Publisher: Bank of America
8 minute video, easy to follow explanation of the difference between credit and debit (with pros and cons for each).

Publisher: SaveandInvest.org by FINRA Foundation
Single page infographic. Cost of credit card debt. 

Teaching teens the true cost of charging
Publisher: Bank of America
Short article for parents
Article. Brief overview of the five C's of credit (character, capacity, capital, collateral, conditions).

Publisher: SaveandInvest.org by FINRA Corporation
Worksheet. Deeper dive into exactly what's included in your credit score. 

How to build a credit score from scratch
Publisher: Bank of America
3 minute video, tips for ways teens (and others) can build credit.

9 things you need to know about prepaid cards
Publisher: Creditcards.com
Article. Good detail if you're considering a prepaid card for your teen. 

Capital Markets
How the stock exchange works (for dummies) 
Publisher: Kurzgesagt in a Nutshell (YouTube)
3 minute video, interesting and good overview of the worldwide securities marketplace. Just ignore the references to euros. 

Initial Public Offering (IPO)
Publisher: Teensguidetomoney.com
Article, deeper dive into initial public offerings. 

Mutual Fund Definition
Publisher: teenvestor.com
Article, good primer on the concept of mutual funds.

Building Bridges
Publisher: Federal Reserve of St. Louis with the SIFMA Foundation
5 minute video, overview of bonds with an emphasis on how cities and governments participate in the bond market.

What is a bond?
Publisher: WSJ.com
Article, break down of terminology and types of bonds including corporate, Treasuries, Savings Bonds.

10 money terms to understand if you want to be rich
Publisher: BusinessInsider.com
Article. I don't love the title but I guess "10 money terms to understand if you want to be financially literate" isn't as sexy. Still, there are some good definitions in here including APR, dollar-cost averaging and FICO scores.

What's the difference between the NYSE and the Nasdaq?
Publisher: Visual Capitalist
Infographic. 

Economics
What gives a dollar bill its value?
Publisher: TED-Ed
3 minute video about money supply, inflation and the Federal Reserve. Additional resources available on the site.

Inflation - The Economic Lowdown Video Series, Episode 9
Publisher: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
4 minute video about inflation rate, Consumer Price Index (CPI), how the Federal Reserve works toward price stability and maximum employment.

Publisher: TED-Ed
4 minute video about economic bubbles and tulips! Additional resources available on the site.

For older teens interested in questions about the economy, productivity, money supply and stuff like that, hand them this book. Updated in 2010 some parts are ever so slightly dated but the writing is very approachable and big picture. Full disclosure: my teen did not read the entire book, but focused instead on chapters that were particularly interesting, like Chapter 2, "Why you might be able to save your face by cutting off your nose (if you're a black rhinoceros)."

Spent
by McKinney for Urban Ministries of Durham
Online simulation (launched in 2011) that's easy to use, great for teens and up. Players navigate through 30 days on a limited wage, dealing with issues like health care, rent and food choices all on an extremely limited budget. To keep the conversation going, use this series of questions created by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) once your teen has completed the game. 


Plug and Play #FinLit Resources

Designed for teachers but access is free, so parents can pull up resources and links. 

Publisher: National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)
NEFE has produced a wealth of free resources for financial education. See the next entry for more about their offerings. Cash Course is designed to be used in colleges and universities, although they allow you to create an account and use the materials even if you are unaffiliated with a school by selecting "School Not Listed" when you reach that point in the registration process. See my "deeper dive" post for info on how you might use this with your kids.

Publisher: NEFE
Free online courses about personal finance with topics ranging from saving to insurance. Not specifically written for teens (see NEFE's program Cash Course above for something geared toward middle and high school ages). NEFE also offers the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) as a free, comprehensive curriculum designed more for classroom settings although their site says it can also be used for workshops and one-to-one settings.

Publisher: Wells Fargo
Offers free, online, self-directed resources for anyone interested in learning more about money management, including one designed specifically for teens. 

Publisher: VISA
Designed for grades 9-12 and free, I've used select modules for my teen. It's worksheet based versus online and interactive. There's a lot more than worksheets at Practical Money Skills. It's one of my favorite resources so please do check it out. See my "deeper dive" post for more details on how to use this with your kids and teens.

The Mint
Publisher: Northwestern Mutual
Separate sections provided for for "kids" and "teens" as well as parents and teachers. This site goes over a lot of the basics but is very dated. The section for college age students (TheMintGrad) looks more current. See my "deeper dive" post for more details on how to use this with your kids and teens. 


Fun and Games
Publishers: VISA, NFL
NFL-themed video game developed by Visa. Choose between three skill levels, use money management skills by answering financial questions to move down the field and score touchdowns. Visa also offers a 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil-branded version.


Designed for use by teachers in a classroom setting, but it's online so can work for you at home as well. Developed for middle and high school students, it teaches personal finance skills (including things like investing in a 401k, supply and demand) in a game setting. I only attempted 2 of the 16 missions. I found that I really needed a pen and paper handy to simplify the process of keeping clues and notes handy. It may be too detailed and slow-moving for younger teens and tweens. It will depend on the type of game your teen likes, but its got a lot of good info and is definitely worth checking out. 

Interactive strategy game designed to help players learn how to spot and avoid investment fraud. Players actually take on the role of fraudster. The theory is that "once you know how the bad guys operate, you can outsmart them at their own game". This is something to check out if your teen is interested in the topic. My 15 year old found the game play frustrating (he played the app version) but liked the chance to play as the "bad guy."

Publisher: SaveandInvest.org by FINRA Corporation
This game was designed with members of the military and their spouses in mind, but the concepts are universal. The goal is "to successfully manage your money throughout life, until you achieve your Big Dream. To win, keep careful track of your finances, pay your bills on time, and take care of all the little day-to-day things that can impact your finances." Teens may lose interest after a few rounds, but I liked the chance to get the realistic and detailed budget and unexpected life events in front of my teen, even for one session of game play.
Publisher: Warren Buffet's Secret Millionaires Club, Genius Brands Intl, Inc.
Quick and easy way to help your kids and teens figure out how to make change, whether that's at a lemonade stand or their first official job. Because many of our transactions aren't in bills and coins these days, it's also helpful to give them an overall "money sense" so they can tell when they are receiving correct change in a cash transaction. See my separate "deeper dive" post about this resource for more details on how to use this with your kids and teens. 

Publisher: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
You have been tasked to serve as the Chair of the Federal Reserve. Your job is to set monetary policy to achieve full employment and low price inflation. Your term will last 4 years (16 quarters). Best for older teens/young adults. Go through the Behind the Scenes videos and Your Job for context before putting your teen in front of a computer and saying "good luck"or they might get frustrated pretty quickly. Or maybe that was just me. 
Updated 9-27-17


Celebrity Calamity
Publisher: FinancialEntertainment.org
Step into the role of Financial Manager for spend-happy celebrities. The game allows players to manage debit and credit cards for a celebrity, deal with credit limits and fees, and make decisions about paying off balances versus minimum payments. It's fun, although frustrating to try to manage money when your celebrity spends it faster than she makes it. 
Updated 9-28-17







Start here: The #FinLit Menu for Parents

When my son entered his teens I started to get serious about financial literacy in a way I should have been years before.  The good new...