Jean Chatzky
Reading, writing and arithmetic are core subjects in schools across the country—but balancing a checkbook, staying on top of interest rates and managing debt are not in most teachers' lesson plans. Jean talks with Douglas Tillett, vice president of corporate communications at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, about the need for personal finance education in schools and at home.

Educating kids and offering educational information to teachers is now part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's outreach program, Practical Money Skills for Life. "Research shows that financial education really does help consumers make better choices—and that is what we want to help people do," Douglas says. "We want them to be better informed and that promotes a healthy economy."

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago organized more than 300 events during the month of April, partnering with schools and libraries across the country to teach kids about personal finance. "It is something as simple as learning basic budgeting—spend less than you earn," Douglas says. "From there, [they should have] some understanding of how to use a credit card and the basic processing for loans. No matter what you do in life, you are going to encounter those things for the rest of your life."

While teaching kids about personal finance in school is something Douglas says is very important, parents also need to take responsibility for cluing their kids in about money from a young age. "I think it is critically important for parents to begin early on to talk to children about money [and] about saving," Douglas says. "If you start to develop that kind of mind-set for children when they are young, then I think by the time they get [to be] our age they are not really playing catch-up."