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Forget piggy banks – today’s kids have stocks

This month, LiveWire checked in with kids ages eight to 12 on their money mindsets. We wanted to find out what they know about finances, and how they feel about spending and saving their own money. Our panelists confirmed suspicions that...
October 1, 1999

This month, LiveWire checked in with kids ages eight to 12 on their money mindsets. We wanted to find out what they know about finances, and how they feel about spending and saving their own money. Our panelists confirmed suspicions that they’re finance-savvy far beyond the realm of the piggy bank. They displayed thorough and accurate knowledge of bank accounts, ATM cards and credit card usage. They also have both long- and short-term goals for their own savings.

What we found:

Kids have money

Well over half of the kids on our panel get a periodic allowance averaging about US$5 a week. Of the kids that receive an allowance, most save some of the money they get. A little less than half save more money than they spend. On average, the amount our kids have in their pockets (not including money in a bank account) is US$26.

Kids save money

Nearly all said that saving money is ‘very important.’ The most common rationale for saving is being able to spend it on ‘something big’ later (such as PlayStation games or CDs), saving for college and generally ‘just being responsible.’

Nearly all of our kids know what a bank account is, and just over half have a bank account in their own name. Among those who have their own account, declared savings average about US$300.

Kids know money

Our panelists’ grasp of money matters runs deep. We probed their knowledge of finance and banking, and found that they’re pretty clear on the ins and outs of credit and ATM cards and, believe it or not, know a thing or two about stocks.

Nearly all of the kids on our panel know the difference between credit cards and ATM cards. Most of this knowledge clearly comes from watching mom or dad put them to use. When asked how many credit cards they thought they’d have when they were older, our boys’ most common answer was three, while the girls generously guessed they would have about eight.

Just over one-quarter of the kids on our panel know what stocks are. Of those in the know, the most common definition is ‘a piece of a company.’ Unlike previous questions in the survey, where both genders had equal financial projections, the issue of future stock holdings uncovered disparate expectations. When asked if they thought they would own stocks when they were older, over one-third of the boys on our panel said ‘yes,’ while less than one-tenth of the girls thought the same. About 10% of the kids on our panel are aware of stocks currently held in their name. Interestingly, the majority of those kids are girls.

Where do kids get this comprehensive knowledge about finances? Not from the media or the banks: The large majority say their parents are their primary source of information on money matters.

What kids said:

Most kids on our panel agree that saving money is important-especially when considering personal buying power. Here’s what they had to say:

‘It’s very important to save money. I may find something I really like that mom and dad won’t buy for me, then I can get it myself.’ Hans, 8, Minnesota

‘I do think that saving my own money is important because it makes my life easier. I don’t have to argue with my parents about getting something special, because I saved up the money to get it.’ Katie, 11, Colorado

‘Yup, I save money so I can buy stuff my mom won’t buy me.’ Jonathan, 8, Iowa

Next month:

KidThink explores the relationship between kids and their favorite spokespeople and spokescharacters.

Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of more than 1,100 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-415-2992 or e-mail livewire@gbinc.com.

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