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Tools for teaching kids money management

March 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lots of children these days have an "ATM mentality," that money magically comes from a machine. They may not know much more than that and that's why it's important to teach them when you can.Margarette Burnette's boys, Christian and Charles, love to count change and she says they like spending it, too.

"They just see all the commercials and everything and they just want to spend. They want to go to the store," said Burnette.

But Burnette is a penny-pincher, even blogging about saving on her Web site CouponsAndKids.com. She wants her children to learn early that they can't buy everything they see.

"It's more important than ever right now," said Burnette. "If we had taught the lessons and learned the lessons in the good times, then maybe it wouldn't hurt so bad now."

Business professor Dr. Kathleen Connell says there are some great Web sites that help parents get across the message on money.

For toddlers and young children like Christian and Charles, she recommends LearnToSave.com. Connell says there are very simple stories, puzzles and coloring books that help a child learn what spending is about.

For children a little older, OrangeKids.com is a hit. It's like a virtual world of money and is set up as a global world where there's a "savings island," a "spending island," "investing island" and "rewards island."

Children in middle school and older may enjoy KidsBank.com.

"It appeals to their more sophisticated sense of money and tells them why money is important in terms of what they want" said Connell.

And BankHS.com is geared toward high-schoolers. They can set aside money which they earn for items they want to purchase either right now, or down the road, and teaches them about college financing.

That's a little far off for Margarette, but she loves the concept. "My kids love computers anyway, they're going to be on there to play games, so I'd love for them to have thing soon there to teach them," she said.

These sites will not ask you for money. Dr. Connell recommends you avoid sites that do. Most of the sites listed below do not ask for personal information, but do allow your child to simply choose a character and follow them. Make sure to check the privacy policy on any site you or your child visit.