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Money Savvy Kids
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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What is the most effective way to teach kids how to manage their money?


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52:00 minutes (24.96 MB)
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Connecticut Assistant Treasurer for Policy, Meredith Miller: Photo by Catie TalarskiConnecticut Assistant Treasurer for Policy, Meredith Miller: Photo by Catie Talarski
Ordinary families are feeling the effects of America's slumping economy, and parents are asking,can we do a better job teaching kids about money?

Talking with kids about money is nothing new, but nowadays, youngsters have more money to spend, more pressure to spend it and a greater need for adults to guide them in the basics of personal finance.

Last month, on the same day that President Bush signed the 150 billion dollar economic stimulus package, the US Treasury Department held its first meeting of the President’s new “Advisory Council on Financial Literacy” Members of this national council will be looking at ways to increase access to financial education - both for adults, and for students.

Today we focus on kids and money, Kids need guidance on the basics of personal finance. And - that’s always been true. But today’s financial world is so much more complex – there are so many more ways to make money – and at the same time, so many more ways to get into debt, serious debt, fast.

The author of “Raising Money Smart Kids” is with us. Her book has been called “the financial version of Dr. Spock.”

And Connecticut’s State Treasurer’s office offers programs to help youngsters understand how to budget and save, how credit cards work and lots more.Connecticut Assistant
Treasurer for Policy, Meredith Miller joins us in the studio.

To see pictures of Where We Live's in-studio guests, please go to our Flickr page.

You can contact us via email at [email protected].

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Hi --

I homeschool my child, and have done lots of reading about various theories on helping children come to understand math and to use this powerful tool.

I am glad to hear someone on your show representing the voice of reality -- it seems easy for people involved in education to lose sight of the real world, and to start working within the frame of the academic world only.

The point of math is to help children understand their world more fully, and to operate within that world successfully, no? I think an enormous amount of time is spent in school on having children learn math before their real life experiences show them the REASON we need math to help us in our lives. And I think this disconnect is responsible for the "problems" we have "teaching" children math. If children can see the real life applications of math, they seem to have a much easier time of understanding how to do it. If you're teaching multiplication of say, double digit numbers, to children who are 7 or 8, where in their day do they need to know how to do this? Rarely, it seems to me.

I think we do too much too early. Let children be children. If they must attend school, get them out on the playground. Build a nature trail behind the school. Start a garden. Help children understand the world they live in by living in it first, and the academics will come later as their minds mature and they find they need to use this tool. They don't need drills, they will learn the multiplication tables by using them in real life.


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I was listening to the show as I got ready for work (I'm a grad student
- I don't have to get up early) and I heard a caller say the standard,
"Kids these days can't make change!" No one on the show refuted this.

I worked retail jobs in high school. In undergrad I worked at a Bagel
store for two weeks. It was very poorly managed, and I had already
given my two weeks' notice. I was alone during the lunch rush and the
power went out. I was in the middle of a transaction, and I started
looking back at the board to remember what the item I was ringing up
cost. Then I started calculating the tax in my head. All the while,
the woman whose bagel I was ringing up was screaming at me irately what
she said the price was, but of course I would be held responsible if the
till didn't add up at the night, not her. Then she started screaming at
me that even her fifth grader could do math better than I could. This
is rather ironic since I am now a graduate student in physics. (What I
should have done was given her her money back and kicked her out without
the bagel.)

Having worked lousy jobs in retail and food service, I think most of the
complaints about people working those jobs are unfair, especially the
one that they can't do math. Typically there are three or four things
going on in your head, not just managing the current customer but how do
you make sure that the next customer is served and are you sure that the
new trainee (and there is always a new trainee because of the high turn
over) is handling things properly? This is exacerbated by the tendency
of these places to have too few staff. So, yes, when I worked behind
the counter, I let the cash register tell me how much change was
needed. I could do it without but it freed me up to worry about other
things. And anyhow, that venti caramel latte costs about as much as the
people behind the counter earn in an hour - that kind of math is enough
to make you depressed.

Christine Nattrass