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Everybody is talking green so let's talk greenbacks

By Dian Vujovich

The greening of America begins with money. It ends there, too. But, given that surveys show the majority of folks don’t feel comfortable teaching their kids about money, here’s some easy-to-apply help.

First, a little bit about the green in our currency. As the U.S Treasury has redesigned our currency, you’ll find less and less of the color green in each denomination. No worries though—the newly designed and more colorful ones still count.

On to the learning.

If you’ve ever wondered how in the world to teach kids of any age about money, concern your self no longer. The government’s Money as You Grow website offers ” 20 Things Kids Need to Know About Money” at moneyasyougrow.org.

What’s useful about the site is that it breaks lessons into age groups, offers suggested activities for each category and gives adults terrific beginning points for discussding money.

Here are the “20 Things” with two examples of the activities offered.

-Ages 3 to five:

1.You need money to buy things.

Activities here include identifying coins and their value and talking about things that are free– like playing with a friend.

2.You earn money by working.

3.You may have to wait before you can buy something you want.

4.There’s a difference between things you want and things you need. .

-Ages 6 to 10

5.You need to make choices about how to spend your money.

6.It’s good to shop around and compare prices before you buy.

7.It can be costly and dangerous to share information online.

8.Putting your money in a savings account will protect it and pay you interest.

-Ages 11-13

9.You should save at least a dime of every dollar you receive.

10.Entering a credit card number online is risky because someone could steal your information.

11.The earlier you start to save, the faster you’ll benefit from compound interest, which means your money earns interest on your interest.

12.A credit card is a type of loan; if you don’t pay your bill in full every month, you’ll be charged interest and owe more than you originally spent.

-Ages 14-18

13.It’s important to know what a college will cost you before choosing it.

14.You should avoid using credit cards to buy things you can’t afford to pay for with cash.

15.Your first paycheck may seem smaller than expected since money is taken out for taxes.

16.A great place to save and invest money you earn is in a Roth IRA.

-Ages 18 plus

17.You should use a credit card only if you can pay off the money owed in full each month.

Activities here include discussing the difference between gross pay (before taxes are taken out) and net pay (the amount you take home); explaining a W-4 form; and how tax brackets vary depending on how much you earn. For example, in 2012, single people who earn $8,700 or less per year pay a tax rate of 10%, and those who earn between $8,700 and $35,350 pay 15%.

18.You need health insurance.

19.Putting all your eggs in one basket can be a risky way to invest; consider a diverse mix of stocks, bonds and cash.

20.Always consider two factors before investing: The risks and the annual expenses.

To see the activities associated with each, visit:

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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