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Survey: Nearly Half of Parents Report It’s Important to Teach Children About Being Financially Savvy

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The national debt crisis has dominated the headlines over the past weeks and left many people wondering what’s next. While complicated and frustrating, one of the silver linings is that it can offer a teachable moment for parents to educate their children on the importance of managing money. According to a new survey, nearly half (47 percent) of parents said it’s important to teach their children about being financially savvy because after the most recent recession, they want their children to be properly prepared for the future. This survey was conducted online nationwide by Harris Interactive on behalf of from July 19 – 21, 2011, among 2,293 U.S. adults age 18 and older, of whom 552 were parents of children aged 3-17.

When it comes to teaching children about financial issues, many parents start with the fundamentals. When asked what financial topics are most important for children to learn, parents said the following:
•Basics of a savings account – 81 percent
•Being frugal, such as bargain hunting, saving money, etc…, – 76 percent
•Creating budgets – 73 percent
•Making investments – 32 percent

“With a new school year arriving, many parents are focused on what their children will learn in the classroom, but are also teaching financial lessons at home,” said Jackie Warrick, President and Chief Savings Officer at, a leading online coupon site. “More than one-in-five parents said that even if they don’t currently talk to their children about the importance of managing money, they plan to start. With a wealth of resources on the web and the challenges of the past recession fresh in their minds, many parents see an opportunity to introduce financially savvy habits to their families.”

Many parents realize that one of the essentials of being financially savvy is to learn how to manage money. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of parents report they give their children an allowance. Parents that dole out an allowance cited the following reasons behind it:
•Earning money encourages them to be responsible and to do their chores – 78 percent
•Teaches them the value of a dollar – 73 percent
•Introduces them to the basics of budgeting – 68 percent

In an open-ended question, parents also shared the biggest financial lessons they wish they had learned when they were young, including:
•Always be prepared for unexpected expenses.
•Debt is bad and should be paid off early.
•Credit needs to be taken seriously; it’s not just free money at your disposal.
•How to understand student loan issues.
•How to control your impulse spending.
•Start saving for retirement at a much younger age.
•Get a credit card while still in college so you can start building credit early.
•Don’t cash out your 401(k).
•Make long-term and short-term savings accounts.
•Learn more about good investment practices.

For the purposes of this survey, parents are defined as U.S. parents with children aged 3-17.