Here's what I taught, in addition:

Save something, always. We made savings a mandatory as well as voluntary activity. In addition to suggesting our daughter could save up to buy what we wanted, we made sure a portion of every dollar went into the "savings" bank of her Moonjar money bank.

Share something. This concept is a tough one, even for some older people. But we told our daughter she needed to set aside a portion of her money to share with others. She didn't get this at all -- why should she share her money? -- until we read a book on cheetahs and she realized she could give money to help them. A donor was born.

Advertisers don't always tell the truth. We talked with our daughter about toys that seemed great on TV but that weren't that fun to play with when she actually got them. We also pointed out that some things, such as healthful food and free ways to have fun, aren't typically advertised on TV.


Ages 6 to 10

  • You need to make choices about how to spend your money.
  • It's good to shop around and compare prices before you buy.
  • It can be costly and dangerous to share information online.
  • Putting your money in a savings account will protect it and pay you interest.

Here's what we're teaching, in addition:

There's a connection between risk and reward. Sitting in the house may be safe, but it isn't very fun. Riding bikes, snorkeling and gymnastics -- three favorite activities -- involve some risk but offer the reward of a good time. Then there are riskier activities, such as riding without a helmet, where the rewards simply aren't worth the risk. We want our daughter to learn to take reasonable and measured risks, in life and in her finances.

Entrepreneurs chart their own courses.

We've helped our daughter set up many, many lemonade stands and talked about other businesses she could start. We want her to know that while working for someone else isn't necessarily a bad deal, being an entrepreneur has more upside (as well as more risk; what if no one buys her lemonade?).

Ages 11 to 13

  • You should save at least a dime for every dollar you receive.
  • Entering personal information, like a bank or credit card number, online is risky because someone could steal it.
  • The sooner you save, the faster your money can grow grow, thanks to compound interest.
  • 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.

Here's what we'll also teach:

Credit cards are a tool; credit debt is dumb. Credit cards are the best way to buy online and to pay for large purchases, because they offer more consumer protections than other payment methods do. But you have to keep track of what you're spending so that you don't charge more than you can pay off each month.