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Money Talks

August 18, 1996|From Reuters

The end of summer may be a good time to help educate your children financially, since they probably have their blown allowances or saved earnings to think about.

Talking about money may be the best approach. But there are also some new and not-so-new and entertaining products on the market to help:

* The World of Money Allowance Kit, $29.95, Summit Financial Products, ([800] 813-1043).

This is a really slick, kid-tested bank, audiotape and book combo that drives home the concept that money should be saved, spent, invested and given away. It's a three-compartment plastic bank that looks like a little bookshelf. There's a section for spending and giving, another for saving and another for investing that kids can "lock up" with little plastic ties.

The tape teaches the difference between spending, saving and investing, and the book guides kids through allocating their allowance among the three. There are colorful stickers that kids can use to personalize their banks with savings and investment goals, such as in-line skates and college diplomas. Sure it's gimmicky, but it's worked around my house for about two weeks, and that's something of a record.

* Young Spender's Profile, free (send self-addressed stamped envelope), National Center for Financial Education, P.O. Box 34070, San Diego, CA 92163-4070.

This 20-question self-test for teenagers isn't very mysterious. But for teens who are already preoccupied with an identity quest, a few minutes spent in introspection is almost always enjoyable. It comes together with a credit risk profile for youths that may help you decide whether or not to share your plastic with older teens.

* My Private Mutual Fund, $50, Stattin Group Inc., P.O. Box 1842, Park City, UT 84060.

This Macintosh CD-ROM is aimed at getting kids and their parents started in stocks. Unfortunately, the execution is a little technical and clunky, not nearly as good as the idea that spawned it. Creator Eric Stattin and his neighbors have been setting up individualized "mutual funds" for their children and grandchildren, using companies that allow commission-free small investments through dividend reinvestment programs.

* SteinRoe Young Investors Fund ([800] 338-2550).

This is a real mutual fund that keeps both expenses and jargon to a minimum to attract trust and gift accounts for children.

* "Mom, Can I Have That?" by Janet Bodnar, $13, Kiplinger Books.

This is a book for parents who never know how to answer all those tough money questions their kids throw at them. It's funny and light enough to read on the beach but includes sensitive advice, such as how to handle questions about whether you're rich or poor.

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