USA TODAY - For parents with young children, almost everything is a learning opportunity, and money lessons can't come soon enough.
Recent Northwestern Mutual research found that Americans have difficulty saving for the long-term-they know they need to save, but they're not making it a priority or habit.
Parents can help kids develop savings habits early. Financial literacy website TheMint.org shares ideas and tips for raising money-savvy kids:
1. Try the four-bank system. Whether your child has an allowance, receives birthday money or earns her own "income," work with her to divide earnings into four jars labeled GIVE, SPEND, GROW and SAVE. This will teach your child the basics of asset allocation.
Treat GROW as a 401K, and offer to contribute a set amount for every dollar your child puts in.
2. On the topic of allowance, that's your call.
Start your child early (earning pennies to practice the four-bank system) or wait until he's old enough to do odd jobs around the house.
3. Start a 401(Kids) fund. Visit your local bank and open a savings account in your kid's name. Show her how to fill out a deposit slip and explain that you'll match "X" amount saved.
4. Turn a grocery store visit into a field trip. When your child asks you to make a purchase, make sure she understands the cost. Try asking your child, "Can you afford to buy that with your money?" If she has money with her, help her count it out and decide. You might find your child is more hesitant to make a purchase if she's saving up for something else.
Another idea: Make sticking to your budget a team effort. Ask your child to help you find grocery items with the lowest prices.
Do you model money smarts?
While 54 percent of surveyed parents told Northwestern Mutual that their approach to the money they have today is, "Save. Be careful and aim for long-term financial security," 26 percent have stopped or reduced contributions to their savings accounts in the past three years.
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