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, which is a money management tool provided by Intuit.

Things to know:
- 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.

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...