Even if you live in a state with rigorous standards, you're still the No. 1 influence when it comes to your kids' money habits. It's a subject to talk about both early and often, said Ted Beck, president and chief executive of the National Endowment for Financial Education. The group did a study with the University of Arizona and found that parental involvement is key in helping young adults avoid financial problems.
But don't mistake lesson for lecture.
"It's pretty easy to tune out," warned Beck. The best money lessons for young kids are more interactive, letting them get hands-on money experience.
"To me, financial literacy is knowledge into action," said George Barany, financial education director for America Saves.
One of the simplest things to do: Walk kids through the money decisions you make, involving them in the process when you can. There are valuable financial lessons even in everyday tasks, said J.J. Burns, a certified financial planner based in Melville, New Jersey. A trip to the grocery store, for example, can be an opportunity to cover planning, budgeting and value — in the relatively more fun guise of making a grocery list, clipping coupons and comparing unit prices.
"You're demonstrating the actions of how you go about doing this," he said.