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Your child is never too young to learn about money

Kids typically form their money habits by age seven, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge. Scary thought? It doesn’t have to be, if you start talking to your children early about money.

Researchers say children as young as three years old can grasp financial concepts like saving and spending.

Despite the importance of financial literacy, most schools don’t include it in their curriculum. Children need money role models, and parents can help fill that role.

That’s what inspired banker Roy Kim to write a children’s book series, Adventures in Finance with Bull & Bear. Through storytelling and colorful illustrations, the series aims to teach kids about saving and investing money.

“You can’t have something simply because you want it,” Kim says. “You have to work hard for it.” And that’s something he tries to teach his six- and nine-year-old daughters.

The first two books in the series, “Saving for the Beach” and “Borrowing for New Bikes,” talk about the importance of borrowing responsibly, the consequences of not paying back your debts and how to spend wisely.

Kim says he hopes his books will be a launching pad to spark conversations about money between parents and their children.

“As important as it is to raise your kids to be good people, you should also raise them to be smart with their money,” Kim says.

And that early financial education should help reap you benefits in the future, he says. Your kids will understand that money is finite and that it’s important to make wise choices.

As your children get older, they can have fun with interest rate calculators like the one at Investor.gov. They can see how much money they’ll earn if they save or invest a certain amount and it grows at a particular interest rate.

Of course, you should try to lead by example. Your own spending and saving habits are constantly on display for your children and can be powerful teaching moments for them. Who knows, instead of buying a snack after school every day, your nine-year-old might just surprise you and say she’s saving to put that money toward a new laptop.