Money management is probably the last thing on the minds of most kids – if it even registers at all – but there are concrete steps you can take to help ensure that your children know how to think about money, including the importance of saving for the future.

The first rule of introducing your kids to financial education: the sooner you start, the better.  If you plant those seeds with care, they’ll take root and your children will be much more likely to achieve financial success later in life.

Today’s kids are much more likely to spend rather than save. Even parents who try to teach their children about finances, such as by giving them a regular allowance, might find their lessons overshadowed by stronger messages that come from advertising or from children’s peers. Unfortunately, by the time most young people graduate from high school, they know all about spending and very little about saving or spending wisely.

Consider these facts:
• According to a 2013 review by financial institution Piper Jaffray, American teenagers spend most of their income – about 21 percent – on clothing, followed by food (18 percent); accessories and personal care (10 percent); shoes (9 percent); car-related expenses (8 percent); electronics (8 percent); music and movies (7 percent); video games (6 percent); concerts and events (6 percent); other expenses (3 percent); books (2 percent); furniture (2 percent).

• The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research this year found most students devote about one half or more of their earnings to discretionary spending on relatively short-term wants and needs.

On April 11, thousands of bankers, including many from Wells Fargo, connected with kids in classrooms and after-school programs across the country during the annual American Bankers Association’s “Teach Children to Save Day.”  These efforts will help young people take an important first step in mastering their financial ABCs. In addition, Wells Fargo is committed to using the entire month of April to highlight the financial education programs it offers to children, teens, young adults and adults year-round.

Five Tips for Parents
Parents play a crucial role in their children’s financial success later in life.  Here are five tips for parents from Wells Fargo:
1. Start early — Before they even start school, children begin to understand the process of managing money.
2. Set goals — Have children write down things they want and what they cost.  Teach them about making choices and saving.
3. Pay a modest allowance – Just a small amount can help children learn.
4. Make a budget — Start with three categories: spend, save, give.
5. Use free resources — Check out the Hands on Banking website at; Wells Fargo’s children’s financial success resource center at ; and your public library, which likely has a number of good books on the topic.

A tip for children ages 3-7:  Take three jars and label them separately: Spend, Save, Give.  Help the children split up their money into each jar and watch it grow as they save and disappear as they spend.

A tip for pre-teens, ages 8-12:  Create a short-term savings box.  Have the pre-teens choose something they want (a brand name pair of shoes or a video game system).  They will learn the value of savings when they save enough to purchase the item.
A tip for teens, ages 13 and up:  Open a savings account for long-term savings.  Have teens save a certain percentage for a few years to make a bigger purchase.

Parents should ask their banker for more ideas and advice. Their child’s long-term financial security is at stake. By starting early, they can help their child develop good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

Lisa Frison is vice president, African American Segment Manager, for Wells Fargo.