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International Savings Month focuses on education

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For the sixth consecutive year, Merrill Lynch has designated April as International Savings Month to teach children and families the importance of developing good financial habits at an early age, according to a news release from Merrill Lynch.

New ground has been broken with this year's initiative. Merrill Lynch has formed a new alliance with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is distributing a new "Money Matters" edition of Brain Quest and has developed a wider range of financial educational materials for all ages.

Free educational materials available from Merrill Lynch include:

?A special Merrill Lynch "Money Matters" edition of Brain Quest, an educational question-and-answer deck filled with fun money trivia for kids of all ages

?Young Entrepreneur Kits for kids and teens on starting their own businesses

?An Education Pack for teenagers featuring tip sheets on Moving Out: What it Really Costs to Live on Your Own, How the Stock Market Works, Teen's Guide to Budgeting, Getting on the Road (tips for owning your first car), Getting to College, Welcome to the World of Credit, Your Career: Getting Started on the Road to Success, and a glossary of financial terms and definitions

?A special "InTime" college planning guide developed and distributed with Time School Publishing on financial aid, essay writing, college costs, careers and budgeting.

"Recent Merrill Lynch research has found that kids who learn about saving, talk with their parents about money, receive an allowance, or hold a bank or securities account, save significantly more later in life than those who do not," said Jyoti Chopra, vice president and manager of education services, in the release.

"One of the most effective long-term solutions to the savings crisis is to teach children about good financial habits. International Savings Month gives children, parents and their teachers the opportunity to make learning about money matters fun and applicable to everyday life," Chopra said.

As part of Savings Month, Merrill Lynch also commissioned a survey of young people, asking 500 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 about a variety of financial topics including how they earn, spend, save and learn about money.

The survey found that 56 percent of the respondents have had a class in school that discussed saving money or investing, compared with 44 percent in 1998. Consistent with other Merrill Lynch research, teens who have either had a class on saving and investing or a job are more likely to have plans for their savings than those without early education or jobs.

In general, financial literacy is higher among teens who have had a class discussing saving or investing, or who have sought saving or investing advice. The majority of teens (68 percent) said they never have discussed using credit cards responsibly with their parents, while 51 percent discuss how to spend their money more wisely.

"Our survey continues to find a severe lack of teen education about credit cards," Chopra said. "That's one reason Merrill Lynch has broadened our educational materials to include our new Educational Pack, focusing on real-life financial concerns for teens such as credit management, budgeting, college financing, and buying a first car. We also have developed a special 'Money Matters' edition of Brain Quest, a Young Entrepreneur Kit, helping teens to start their own businesses, and a special 'InTime' college planning guide in collaboration with Time School Publishing."

While education has increased, the saving habits of teens have slightly declined, the survey found.

Twenty-six percent of teens said they saved most of the money they received, vs. 28 percent in 1998[[In-content Ad]]

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