CHICAGO (CBS) — Your kids are watching — that’s the reminder for parents from a financial expert who said, when it comes to money, and surviving this economy, you’re a role model for your kids, even if you don’t realize it.

Seven-year-old Autumn Wright’s piggy bank weighs more than she does. It’s full of the extra change she and her older sister Tierney have collected from their parents.

“What I want them to understand is it’s very important to save,” their father, Marcus Wright, said. “Things are so tight in the economy today for anybody, so if you teach kids good lessons now, as they become adults it becomes easier for them.”

The Wright family made a commitment to saving money by reducing spending in every aspect of their lives, and their children have seen their dedication.

“Kids mimic everything that their parents do. If your parents are going out, spending lavishly, buying the most expensive shoes, not shopping around at the grocery stores, or choosing between insurance, those values will not be instilled in a child,” said Andrew Schrage, a financial expert with

Schrage said it’s important that you don’t spend lavishly. Instead, let your children watch as you stick to a budget.

“Make it kind of a game for them. Have them pick out the cereal, the protein, whatever it might be to check off all the items on the list, while also staying under budget,” Schrage said.

He also suggested, instead of just refusing to buy their favorite toy, suggest they do extra chores to earn it.

There are also plenty of financial websites, and mobile phone apps just for children.

“They can have fun, and almost be tricked into learning about the value of money, saving, deciding what to spend your money on,” Schrage said.

Autumn is now a fan of Planet Orange, a website with games for 1st through 6th graders, to teach them about earning, spending, saving, and investing money.

“It looks fun,” she said.

Marcus said, “It’s going to help her understand better what I’ve been trying to teach her.”

One more tip from Schrage – and it’s an old fashioned one – give your children allowances. This also helps teach them lessons in budgeting.

For more advice, we’ve got a list of suggested websites and free financial apps below:


Coin Math
Save! The Game
Kids Money


Money Smart for Kids
Planet Orange
Penguin Cold Cash
Understanding Taxes For Students (IRS)
It’s My Life (PBS)

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