Menstuff® has compiled the following information on raising financially fit kids

Independent Means, Inc. sets the standard for innovative resources for Raising Financially Fit Kids. Your kids are developing views on money through your actions! This month, make a note to talk about hidden costs - the price of that trip or the car or club membership that DOESN'T show up on the price tag. Source:


The DollarDiva Story

In 1990 Independent Means founder, Joline Godfrey, a social worker from Maine, turned corporate woman and entrepreneur in Boston, moved to California to write Our Wildest Dreams, a book about women entrepreneurs, their passions and their challenges. (It has been an eclectic life of surprise she says.)

By the time she'd written the last chapter of her book, she had had an epiphany: many of the stories the women told about their lives and their businesses reflected the fact that each of the women she wrote about had had both a late start in their own journey of financial independence, and too little help. By the time the book hit the shelves of book stores around the country, she had a mission: find a way to help young women get an early start on their own journey for independence.

And with that mission, the DollarDiva Story began.

In May of 1992, Joline and her friend Karen Schafer invited 50 teenage women from Ojai, CA's Nordhoff High School to meet with twenty DollarDivas to talk about money, business and independence. They had no idea how the day would turn out, or even if it would work, but decided to experiment with bringing the two groups together to see what might happen. (Exploring the unknown is a trademark of any true DollarDiva!)

The DollarDivas included people like Ruth Owades, founder of Calyx and Corolla, the first overnight mail-order flower company, Ella Williams, who had built a highly successful engineering company in southern California (she told of getting her first contract for $20 million after showing up for years to the same clients, loaf of her own home made bread in hand!), Kirby Sack, who had just started her own residential real estate firm, Terrie Williams, founder of the first public relations agency started by a Black woman, and Sonia Melara, founder of one of the country's first successful Hispanic Yellow Pages.

Kids and Allowances

1. An allowance is not a salary or an entitlement. It is a tool for teaching children how to manage money.

2. There is no right amount. Rule of thumb is to start small and increase the allowance as the child's ability to manage responsibility increases.

3. Manage your child's allowance in the context of your goals. Are you trying to teach budgeting skills? Are you hoping to encourage independence? Decide what lessons you want to instill and then build the allowance around those lessons.

4. Do not use the allowance for behavioral control. Money anxieties are deeply embedded in our psyches. Connecting an allowance to emotional or behavioral control exacerbates this and doesn't do much to help the child develop healthy financial habits.

* RFFK Tips are excerpted from 'Raising Financially Fit Kids' (2003) by Joline Godfrey. Please visit or for more information.

Money Mentoring Team for Your Kids

Kids report that parents find it easier to discuss drugs and sex with them than money. Which is to say the conversations rarely happen. Building a Money Mentoring team is one way to get the subject on the table and in the real lives of your kids.

The idea is simply to identify a group of people with whom you can barter time: ask them to spend a couple of days a year with your kids (a team of six can translate into 12-18 days of money talk a year for your kids) to whom you can offer a service in return-maybe a gift certificate for a massage or a great bottle of wine will do the trick.

  • Do you have a friend who raises money for non-profits and can talk about the world of philanthropy?
  • Do you know anyone who works in mortgage loans, or commercial credit? Ask them to take your teenager for an afternoon to visit a house that is being sold and talk about how the mortgage process works.
  • How about the parent you met at the last PTA meeting who mentioned they're in charge making sure their company's benefits are 'family friendly.' How about asking them to talk about what a family friendly benefit IS?
  • Or think about successful entrepreneurs you know-would they talk about their life choices with your kids? Can they talk about corporate life vs. the entrepreneurial life?

Every family will create a different team. You might organize your best friend, a grandparent, your investment advisor, maybe an aunt and a co-worker all to be on the team. Your best friend might recruit her father, a co-worker, a favorite teacher. Whatever the particular make-up, the idea is to create an extended family of money mentors who will, over time, reinforce key values and expectations, offer a cumulative set of money skill building experiences, and take the pressure off you as the only source of your children's financial education. That team is part of the 'village' required to raise a child.

Making the Team Work... (for the full text of the article visit Independent Means's website: or call 800-350-1816.

Preventing Greed

Four ways to help ways to help your kids avoid the perils of catching the greed virus:

1. Make sure they are involved in something larger than themselves (a cause, a charity, a team project). You can start this as early as age 5-8. And if your kids are over 12 make it an imperative of family life.

2. Talk with them about the nature of greed and its downside consequences. Whether it's a conversation triggered by a problem with a friends or a storyline on television, discussing the consequences of greed is as important as talking about sex and drugs.

3. For their next birthday make one of their gifts a donation to a cause in their name-make them part of the decision about where the donation will go.

4. If you have a teen, help arrange an internship in a company that has a reputation for ethical and profitable practices-this will act as an antidote to the Enron/WorldCom stories they now hear.

High Net Worth Kids

They drive SUVs, have trust funds that assure financial comfort for life, money in the bank for college and credit cards they can use any and everywhere. Such lucky kids... or are they?

We don't have to exaggerate the dilemmas of early wealth for kids with horror stories of depression, suicide rates, easy drugs, or early sex - Indeed these are equal opportunity problems for kids today.

But kids who have little incentive to develop good money habits are also less likely to shepherd wealth; more likely to squander it, and less likely to develop true developmental independence.

Busy parents often say that it's easier to "feed the tiger than tame it." That may be true, but the efforts of parents who work to instill sound financial habits in their kids do have a pay-off - for both community and for the kid...

For the complete article on "High Net-Worth Kids," email

Raising Financially Fit Kids: What Would You Do? Best Practices From Parents

Last month's question:

We give our 15 year old son an allowance of $25/week to cover school expenses and some extras (food, a movie, etc.) We have two other kids and this represents a significant part of our monthly expenditures. He also has does chores for a next door neighbor a couple of times a week and between the two sources of income, he makes an average $40-$50 week. My wife and I think this is adequate money for a 15 year old to manage at this point, but we are in a constant battle as he says it isn't enough to cover the cost of the dates he goes on each week. 

What is a reasonable amount for a 15 year old to spend on a date and what happened to equality? Don't girls ever help pay the cost of a night out?

June Brown offered our favorite response (and the gift certificate winner!)

"Who says YOU have to pay for his dates? I suggest that when he runs out of money, he doesn't go on any more dates. Do not ever give him money for his dates. Otherwise you'll have a college student asking for money for his dates... Suggest he needs to space his dates to conserve his funds and find lower cost dates (picnic, hiking, free outdoor event such as a sidewalk art show. Explain to him about coupons and free/ reduced events at the zoos, movies etc. that can be found by looking on the web or in the local newspapers. Mention early bird specials for cheaper eats.

For his next birthday you might buy him an entertainment coupon book. Independent Means suggests you check out . And of course the girl could pay her way as well. Imagine he explained that he would LOVE to spend more time with her but doesn't have a lot of money so he would really appreciate it if she would think up some fun low cost/free things for them to do.

Remember - his dates are his problem."

Note from Joline:

I just returned from Mexico City where I had a chance to meet with 100 teenagers, boys and girls. This topic came up under the heading: learning to talk openly with your friends about money. It was clear in this very traditional culture that this was a worry much on young men's minds - even though they wanted to show manhood by being able to "support" their young girl friends, they were anxious about the how to manage it. The girls were quite mixed. Many clung to the notion that paying for dates was "his job." Others saw the fairness of sharing the costs of dates and time together. This topic is talked about less openly among young people, across culture and class, than sex and drugs. Parents can help by raising the topic often and helping their kids to find ways to discuss money with their friends in ways that transcend what brands they like and are going to buy.

You Took Her to Work -- Now What? Eleven Ways to Make Your Daughter Money Smart Year 'Round

1. Expect more of her. By the age of 18 every girl should be able to:

  • open a savings account and save money each month
  • create an annual plan (account for money she'll get and money she'll spend.)
  • balance a check book
  • make a budget and stick to it
  • develop several ways of making money

Parents who do not make handling money as expected as brushing teeth are doing their daughters a dis-service. Remember she's smart, she's on a quest for independence and these are the tools she will need to live safely and well.

2. Give her role models. Sojourner Truth once said, "If I can't see it, I can't be it." Remember your friends are great role models. Someone in your office or in your family is living a life your daughter should have a chance to see and experience. Work out a swap--you take a colleague's daughter and she'll take yours to work for a day. Do this once a quarter and give your daughter a broad range of experiences and role models.

3. Enlarge her vision. Most girls and women have a hard time thinking in a large scale. At Independent Means we don't think big is necessarily better, but we know that girls who are able to think expansively about themselves and their world, see greater opportunities for themselves. When you ask her what she wants to do with her life and she says she wants to be a doctor, suggest she can own the practice, or found a hospital. If she says she wants to have a nail salon, ask her if she's thought about owning a chain of salons. Or maybe she can open the first inter-galactic network of nail salons!

4. Shop competitively with her. Turn the next mall stop into an afternoon of great buying lessons. Select 5 items you will each shop for (actual purchase not necessary) and see who gets the better buys (make sure you each have evidence of the "purchases" you make!)

5. Take her to a business function with you. Maybe it's a chapter meeting for one of your business organizations, or maybe it's a lecture given by a business speaker--give her a chance to experience the culture of business: how people greet one another, what they talk about, what they learn. Business is a culture like any other and we all know that the younger you enter a culture, the easier it is to assimilate into that culture.

6. Give her a copy of the National Business Plan Competition for Teen Women application. Every teen is used to seeing invitations for Miss Teen Beauty Queen, but Miss Teen Business Queen? The young women who enter the Competition master a process that many adult women have yet to tackle! (call 800-350-1816 or email us for more info)

7. Give her a budget and hand her the opportunity to plan the summer event schedule for the family. You want to do things together anyway, give her a chance to think creatively and responsibly to set up one or more family events. Whether it's a picnic in the local park or a day together at an art festival, if she needs to plan the budget and the arrangements for transportation, entrance fees, incidentals bought on the excursion, and materials needed (like food for the picnic) she will be a more cost conscious and responsible person. And if she makes mistakes -- so much the better. This is how she will learn. When teens leave Camp $tart-Up we often ask "What did you learn that surprised you the most?" The most frequent response: "How much things cost."

8. Run a joint venture with her. Whether you plant flowers to sell at the local farmers' market, run a garage sale, or offer hiking tours for women who want to get in shape, the experience of working together and learning together will give you each a new level of respect for one another.

9. Run a business video festival for your daughter and her friends. Rent a few videos and ask them to critique the movies from an economic point of view. What are the money messages being given in the film? What did they think the main characters portrayed that was relevant to their lives? Some good videos to screen: BabyBoomer, Working Girl, Rosie the Riveter...

10. Take her seriously. One of the biggest challenges women and girls face is they are not taken seriously much of the time. When you take her ideas and her opinions seriously, she’ll have practice knowing what to expect from others. You know it's important to you--a sense of gravitas is imprinted early -- make this a gift she will use throughout her life!

11. Send her to Camp $tart-Up , the summer program that teaches teen women to start a business of their own!

How to Make the Ms. Foundation's Take Our Daughter's to Work Day® a Lasting Experience

Easy Plans for Impact and Discovery

The day's approaching, the young women are lined up, your company wants to make a difference for the next generation -- but what are you going to do? Edu-taining young people is not for the faint of heart! Independent Means offers a wide range of products which will ensure your day is interesting, entertaining, and informative. Visit our Online Store for more information on obtaining the materials to put these great ideas to work on the big day!

Tips for Great Days with Kids

Get experiential. This is not a passive generation. Get them involved and don't let well meaning members of the staff talk "at them."

Take them seriously. Have you watched "Dawson's Creek" lately? These young people are worldly, if not yet wise and respect is more important than almost anything to them.

Give them a 'take away': knowledge, on-going activity, or mind-ticklers.

Things To Do:

Network Bingo: Introduce them to one another and your staff with this fast action game. Gets them talking, breaks the ice, and sets the tone for the rest of the day. (Free with an order from IMI's Online Store ) 15-20 min. good for any number.

Annual Report Scavenger Hunt: Want them to get to know your company but don't want to make them watch an endless series of slides? This game, available in BizBuzzTM is a great interactive way to give them a look at the company, help them develop some business vocabulary, and provide a context for the day. 30 min. Work in teams of 2-4

Bankrupt! Available in BizWordTM , this game is a great way to introduce jargon or words specific to your industry or business without making the kids feel self-conscious about words you may use they don’t understand. 15-20 min. Any size group.

Don't forget to give them a break -- remember the entire day may feel like an overload of information and stimulation. Make sure you have fruit, water, & juices available to keep their energy up!

Hot Company™ - The Money Game with Attitude!

Anyone who has ever dreamt of "being the boss" can experience the thrill of running a company and finding solutions that will lead to success, by playing this exciting new board game. Up to four people or four teams can play.Each is the "owner" of a hot new company. Roll the die, pick a card, and you're in business! The object of the game is to get your company to turn a profit and have a great time. Hot Company develops skills that work in the real world as well. Ages 12 to 92.

Product in a Box™

This is an especially effective activity if you want to demonstrate what it takes to make a product, think about how to get that product to market, and want to offer a fun, hands on activity. (Lucent & Digital Equipment use this with their own employees! Great stimulus to creativity!). 60 minutes, includes time to "show & tell." Kids work in teams of 6, works with up to 100 in a group; for greater numbers we recommend paralell or serial sessions.

Women Who Dare

This video is both inspirational and a great catalyst for discussion and imagination. Co-hosted by two young women--this is a look at women in business that girls 13 and over can relate to. Makes a great introduction to Product in a Box™ 45 minutes for screening and discussion.

An Income of Her Own Workshop

This five hour program is a complete package of activities designed to high school age girls to economic issues and economic literacy. Works with 100-500 girls. Email us for more information.

Coaching Mentors

We've seen that it's as important to brief the folks involved in welcoming young people to the workplace as it is to engage the kids. These products and programs are designed to make the in-house mentoring experience a long term investment in the next generation of employees. Send your staff home with the tools to extend the impact of TODTW Day throughout the year.

Economic Wisdom for the Next Generation: An Economic Mentoring Kit Includes a video, workbook and book mark to facilitate activities and shared learning between the generations. Good for one on one mentoring as well as group situations.

No More Frogs to Kiss: 99 Ways to Give Economic Power to Girls This easy to use handbook is full of 99 activities that that are great for post visit events, strategies to recruit young people for your industry, and thought provoking actions for making work policies that help us educate the next generation.

Parent Coaching Workshops: Raising Money Smart Daughters Family friendly companies give employees access to the tools and methods they need to raise money smart kids. Make this workshop available to employees while their children are engaged in the day -- help them develop strategies for building on this very special day -- and leverage the investment you make in their daughters. Email us for more information.

Other Resources

New Moon: Money - Part of the New Moon book series by and for girls 9-13. Provides a comprehensive introduction to money issues with a strong emphasis on following your dreams and taking charge of your economic future. Order at 1-800-381-4743. Visit New Moon on line at

New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams - Edited by and for girls 8-14. A place for girls to explore themselves, their dreams and the larger world. No advertising! Six issues/year $29. Order at 1-800-381-4743. Visit New Moon on line at


Every now and then we find products we think offer parents a little help raising financially fit kids. One that came to our attention recently is the Moonjar. This imaginative and colorful box is designed with three openings: one for sharing, one for saving, and one for spending. It comes with a small "passbook" that can be used with your kids for keeping track of what gets deposited. As an introduction to money management we think it's a pretty good tool.

To order, go to: Store_Code=IM They are ($10 plus S/ H).

We think the product probably works best with kids 5-10, but will take guidance from parents with younger and older kids!

Money Muscle Activity

"Economic literacy is like compound interest. Put a little in often and the long-term pay-off is huge." Here's a Money Muscle Activity that could be a summer project.

Give them a list of people you want to give birthday presents to in the next 3-6 months. Give them a total budget to buy the gifts (you might offer a guide of 1-5, 1 being a close family member to whom you want to give something special; 5 being a distant relative for whom the gift is a simple remembrance). Ask them to suggest the gift, find the lowest cost source, and come to you with a complete recommendation. They may have to do more than one iteration before you OK the purchase. But they get comparative buying experience and you get a big task done.

You might offer to pay them a percent of what they save you - but make sure you reserve the right to OK the gifts! This project can be done by kids as young as 12. Encourage creativity - if they suggest you offer a gift certificate for a day hiking with your best friend for her birthday - take the suggestion. You'll save money and give a gift that means a lot: your time. (And if you share your secret with your friend she may try the same with her kids!)

Choosing a College with Lower Admission Standards

Good News: A recent study by Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton, and Stanley Dale, a researcher at Mathematic Policy Research found that students who chose a school with lower admissions standards over a more competitive school earned as much as those who attended elite colleges. According to Krueger, "The best school that turned you down is a better predictor of future income than the school you actually attend." To read Tom Redburn's entertaining take on the study, go to

Parent Place

Is your child a spendthrift? A giver? A hoarder? A scrimper? Or maybe, just downright oblivious to money?

  • Are there family money dramas you can do without?
  • Do you know how to make financial fitness fun?
  • Do you know where your child is on the developmental map of financial readiness and where they need to be by the age of 18?
  • Do you want to send your children into the world as balanced, financially stable individuals and contributing members of both their family and community?

Parent Place offers help and resources to parents, grandparents, mentors, advisors, and educators who want to help kids become habitual savers, smart money managers, and responsible decision makers. We are reinventing financial education; moving from structured curriculum to raising community consciousness; from static lessons to exciting experiential learning.

© 2007, Independent Means

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Some people think they are worth a lot of money just because they have it. - Fannie Hurst

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