New Programs to Make Your Kids Smart in Finance

HOW CAN YOU prepare your child to make dollars and sense of a tumultuous economy? Start as early as possible.Financial experts say it’s essential to get kids on the road to financial literacy at an early age. And schools, banks and other organizations are doling out new programs with that goal in mind.

Junior Achievement, a nonprofit that educates students about the economy, runs a nationwide BizTown summer camp where kids work with teachers and volunteers to create a simulated economy. Kids ages 10 to 14 work pretend jobs, such as bank teller, product developer or CEO; pay rent for their space; make bank deposits; and balance a personal checkbook. The camp costs $225 to $269 per week. (Go to

Last summer, ING Direct started a summer camp for kids that teaches earning, spending and saving lessons to about 1,500 students in the Wilmington, Del., area. The free, one-week programs are taught by volunteers from the bank. The program is expected to return next month.

Girls will soon be able to earn a merit badge for their financial savviness. In September, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. will roll out 13 types of “Personal Finance” badges for girls ages five to 18. To earn one, girls will have to complete five activities based on age. For instance, a five-year-old must recognize different coins while a 13-year-old must create a budget, says Suzanne Harper, the Girl Scouts’ director of program resources.

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