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Dollars and Sense 

There are too many financial-literacy lessons to count in this month's issue of Kids VT. Some kids have already "gotten it"; the "Biz Kids" featured in this story could teach many of us parents a thing or two.

Money's a tricky topic. There's a lot of emotion attached: pride in providing for our families, fear when there's not enough, worry about future resources.

In his feature story, Ken Picard asks the experts the best way to foster healthy economic awareness in kids. How do you answer questions such as "Are we poor?" and "How come Emma had to move out of her house?" It's never too early to talk about family finances. The Boys & Girls Club of Burlington starts talking to kids in kindergarten about financial planning and career goals.

Jim White, who's been teaching "Growing Money" classes through the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity for a dozen years, says kids take their cues from parents, whether the lessons are explicit discussions about the grocery bill or implicit messages about money troubles or triumphs. Parents may find financial literacy hard to teach because it's something they themselves haven't fully gotten a handle on. Read about CVOEO's "Growing Money" classes in the sidebar at the bottom of this story.

Having grown up in post-World War II England, Tim Brookes has a different philosophy about money — and buying presents — than his wife does. His essay about gift giving references Dickens and Rowling.

My son and I were reading He Bear, She Bear recently when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A dad," Oliver said. I marveled at his innocence and left it at that. Looking back, I probably should have gone ahead and started talking him about what we do versus who we are. I'm not sure I have any "right" answers, but a discussion on planning for the future — for financial goals and career ones — would probably be a wise investment.

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