Financial literacy is becoming an absolute must-have for financial service providers hoping to appeal to the rising generation of adults. It also may be an imperative for the concerned millennial parent, who wants to make sure their kids can make it through life with enough financial knowledge.
Last year, JPMorgan Chase launched its kid-focused banking account, called Chase First Banking, which is designed to help kids learn about spending and saving, while allowing parents to play a part.
Recently, Tearsheet sat down with Radhika Duggal, CMO of community and business development at Chase, to discuss how parents can better teach their kids about money, the tools that can help guide them, and how Chase itself is working towards making financial literacy a company priority.
The following are excerpts from the conversation:
Back-to-school season is the time for conversations about money — parents are spending money on school supplies and kids are feeling excited about learning
We hear from parents all the time that the back-to-school time is this wonderful moment where kids are excited about learning again. It’s almost like a reset button. 
And the fact that parents are spending [on things that are] relevant to kids, and the kids themselves are eager and excited about learning makes this the perfect time to be having these money conversations. 
So the advice that we tend to give is to have these conversations around money while you’re doing that back to school stuff, because it’s relevant to your case. 
So if you’re at Target and you’re debating whether to buy this lunch box that’s $15, or this one that’s $20, have the conversation in real time about why you think $5 is a big amount of money. Why should you choose one versus the other? What is the benefit of really being frugal? And kids are apt to listen then, because the stuff you’re buying is for them.
Kids don’t see the physical movement of money anymore, and that affects their attitudes towards spending. Conversations around money need to happen early.
Given the way kids interact with the world today, they don’t see the physical movement of dollars and cents, and equate the purchase of things with money. So kids might think, ‘oh, mom bought that thing on Amazon. It was so easy. It just happened. It just arrived. Now it’s mine.’
So we really encourage starting that money conversation young and having it often and really delving into ‘here’s how we buy, here’s what we buy, here’s why we buy,’ and particularly talking about the distinction between needs and wants.
Why age 9 to 12 is the sweet spot for money conversations
We’re learning, both through research and through usage, that this is the time when parents feel like it’s okay to give their kids a debit card. They’re old enough to spend responsibly. The other thing is that oftentimes kids need to spend money on their own at that age. It’s the age they’re starting to go out with friends, [doing things like] buying movie tickets for the first time.
About Chase First Banking
We think of Chase First Banking as a teaching tool. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. So we introduced a bank account for kids ages six to 17. And it allows kids to actually use a bank account like a parent does.
They get a debit card with their name on it, which by the way, kids get super excited about. And they get to practice using it firsthand. So kids have the opportunity to swipe their debit card, to make purchases, to think about how to spend their allowance money, and to track their transactions on their own Chase Mobile App. 
And then to be fair, parents have the opportunity to really monitor and control. We’re talking about kids as young as six. Parents really need the opportunity to feel safe, and that they’re able to monitor that spending. 
So they get real time alerts when their kids spend. And when they give their kids an allowance, they can put that money into different budgets. 
What’s next for Chase in terms of financial literacy?
We’re on this multi-year journey to really try to do right by families and students, so that’s context piece number one. Context piece number two is we feel very strongly that kids learn in two ways — number one, by doing and number two, by having those conversations with their parents. 
From the financial education perspective, we’re focused on providing parents and children alike that content that they need. We always hear from parents things like, ‘I don’t know how to do this, how can I teach my child this?’
We want to focus on making sure these websites have the best content and teaching tools available. What is the next iteration of a budgeting tool that can be valuable to a child? What is the next piece of content that’s relevant and timely for the season? We are always focused on building that.  
And lastly on the content piece, making sure that we’re hiring community members across the country that are certified financial coaches. And parents have the opportunity to have a real conversation with these folks about money so that they then feel equipped to have that conversation with their children. So there’s a digital component, and there’s a real time component.
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