Children are future of economy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Our children hold our economic future in their hands. As frightening as that may seem, the fact is how they learn to handle money and how they learn to save (rather than spend) will shape the ultimate financial success of our retirement years.

If they learn to save rather than spend, interest rates will stay low and the stock market will remain strong. If they learn self-reliance they will be a productive economic force rather than an inflationary drag on society, all of which makes our retirement savings more valuable.

As a society steeped in the virtues of higher education and entrepreneurial spirit we are poised to put vast stores of wealth into their hands. For example, a child born today, whose family is fortunate enough to save $5,000 per year for the next 18 years in preparation for college, at age 18 will have more than a quarter of a million dollars to manage!

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But that is just a small piece of the pie. The younger generations are expected to inherit more than $10 trillion from their parents, estates within the next forty years. That wealth can either be productive or destructive — depending upon their management skills!

Willard Stawski, a stockbroker in Grand Rapids, Michigan, developed a system to teach children money management skills, The Cash University Money Management for Kids. It’s a kit that includes an audiotape explaining the program and various tools such as an Allowance Calculator, an erasable board with a section to list chores for making money and a section for negative behaviors that lead to deductions. The child receives his own checkbook, which can be used to write a check to a parent for an immediate cash need and to track funds. In addition, there is a College Savings Board to list special chores for the child to earn college education funds. The kit is targeted at kids ages 4 to 9 and sells for $24.95. Contact: phone 800-209-4800 or

If you want to put that home computer to use for something besides games and email, here are a few Web sites that teach children and young adults about money and investing. Investing for Kids,, is a site designed by kids that covers a wide variety of topics. It is divided into three levels; beginner, intermediate and advanced. It features a nifty stock market game as well as a bulletin board for questions and comments.

— Kids,, was developed by a bank and teaches about money and banking through the use of cartoon-like characters. This is a great spot to start the younger set learning about money, where it comes from, and how it works.

— Young Investor,, teaches the basic concepts of investing through various character guides, from which the child can choose. It contains a handy library with financial articles and a dictionary of financial terms, as well as tips for parents on how to teach their children about investing.

— Independent Means,, is a site targeted at girls under 20. The content focuses on entrepreneurial as well as investment skills. The emphasis is to teach financial self-reliance to young women. A feature on the site that I found especially meaningful is a book titled No More Frogs to Kiss by Joline Godfrey which discusses 99 action plans to financially empower girls. This is a must visit site for parents and their daughters!

Harry Dent, the often-quoted author of &uot;The Great Boom Ahead&uot; and &uot;The Roaring 2000s,&uot; has forecasted a sharp drop in the stock market sometime after the year 2010 as baby boomers stop saving and investing and begin spending. The X factor in his predictive models is our children. Will they be productive? Will they be savers and investors? Will they handle their money, and that which they inherit from us, wisely? If they do, the severity of Dent,s predicted down market will be greatly reduced to all of our benefit. Therefore it makes sense to invest in educating our children now — they are our future!