NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - April is Financial Literacy Month. Studies show we need it more than ever, with as many as two-thirds of American adults unable to answer basic financial questions.
But how do you start talking to children about money and finances, so they grow up to be financially aware?
Long Island-based tax attorney and certified public accountant Karen Tenenbaum says you should start young and make it fun. She created a cartoon character, Walter the Vault, to help parents have financial conversations with their children early on.
Tenenbaum says you should get kids involved in money conversations as young as 3. Her suggestion? Before you go to the supermarket, have them help with the shopping list, and talk to them about what you need versus what you want. Chores and allowance are a great way to teach 6- to 10-year-old kids about money and savings.
Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge says technology is making it easier than ever for parents to make learning about money fun.
Bodge found a great app called Chore Check that lets parents use technology to assign chores. Those chores can have a monetary value, siblings can fight over chores, and whoever finishes first gets a money bonus. You can even give the kids a debit card linked to the app so kids can go shopping with the money they earned doing their chores.
This is also a great time to talk about charity. The Chore Check app has a save, spend, and give component, which can help kids give to charity, save money for a purchase later, or head to the store to spend it. Bodge says these are all good values to teach that 6-to-10 age group.
As they get older, you should be honest with your kids about money, even when times are tough, Bodge says. You don't want to stress them out, but if you're having money problems and need to cut back on activities or can't go on vacation, you should talk to your children so they know what to expect, she says.
Talking to kids about money issues may seem scary, but Bodge says when she had a career change a few years ago she explained it to her 10-year-old daughter. Bodge told her not to worry, but let her know they might have to cut back on some things. She says her daughter handled it really well. It was a great opportunity to help her understand money on a more adult level.
Having those kinds of conversations now could help prevent bigger problems later on.
Tenenbaum handles IRS and New York tax problems regularly and sees the financial problems that people get themselves into. She says her goal is to help the next generation better understand their finances so they don't get into the same problems as some of their parents.