Dallas Kindergarteners Get An Early Start On Money Management
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
You have probably been given this advice at some point. It's never too early to start saving for retirement. Well, several schools in the Dallas area are giving their students a really early start on managing their money. Courtney Collins from member station KERA reports.
COURTNEY COLLINS, BYLINE: You know the expression, all I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten? Kids at Arapaho Classical Magnet can say that and mean it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everyone say income with us.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Income.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Income.
COLLINS: That's right. These 22 kindergartners are talking about more than dollars and cents, salaries and budgeting, and they really get it. Five-year-old Jack Golub explains the importance of putting money away.
JACK GOLUB: You can give it to the bank and they keep it so no one can get it.
COLLINS: Saving money, especially for higher education, is the central message of this pilot program. It's called Dollars for College, and it kicked off last fall at two schools in Richardson, Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But in our second story, there was a problem. The piggy bank was too full.
COLLINS: Karla Cabezuela Price has twin boys at one of those schools. She and husband opened savings accounts for them when they were little, so her kids have been inside a bank before. But until they learned about earning and saving money in school, those family field trips didn't mean much.
CABEZUELA PRICE: The lessons have really been what's great because before, for us as a family, we would just go to the bank, put the money in, talk to the tellers and leave. But now they really understand the whys behind it.
COLLINS: The lessons are one important part of the program. The other - offering every kindergarten parent a free college savings account. Cabezuela Price and her husband opted in. Now her 6-year-olds are obsessed with putting money aside.
PRICE: If they get money from their grandparents, they want to go and put it in the bank account for college. There's no other thought. They don't want to put it in a wallet. They don't want to go spend it. That's what it's for.
COLLINS: Cabezuela Price is a busy working mom, a district manager for a high-end clothing store. She didn't go to college and wants her kids to take higher education seriously starting early - very early.
PRICE: I don't remember really talking about college until high school, but I think the sooner the better and the more excited they'll become. And really, as parents, it financially supports us as well if they're talking about it and excited about it and wanting to do those things now.
COLLINS: And research supports that. Woody Widrow is executive director of Raise Texas, one of the nonprofits that engineered the program.
WOODY WIDROW: We're hoping that kids' and parents' attitudes, perception and behavior change and that they start to understand that it is possible to be able to go to college and to get a degree and get a good-paying job.
COLLINS: At Arapaho Classical Magnet, teacher Gina Buffington says her kindergartners are off to a good start.
GINA BUFFINGTON: The experience of opening accounts really did make it very real for them. More than half of my students now have a college savings account.
COLLINS: Buffington says the students really understand the difference between wants and needs and the importance of earning an income.
BUFFINGTON: And we talked about how going to college can give you the skills that you need in order to earn an income.
COLLINS: Good thing since kindergarten financial titan Jack Golub has already chosen a profession.
JACK: Well, I like veterinarians, and I also like animals.
COLLINS: So that's four years for an undergraduate degree and four more years for vet school. It sounds like the future Dr. Golub is up for the challenge. For NPR News, I'm Courtney Collins in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.