TOLEDO, Ohio — Money is a tough topic for anyone to talk about, but it's important that kids are set up with the tools needed to navigate a world in which money is the centerpiece.
That's the word from financial experts, who say good decisions about money are built early in life.
It's summertime, when you'd probably expect kids to be at camp or at the pool, but 12-year-old Mallory Kolin spends her free time making money. She works at her grandfather's produce stand twice a week.
"It's really fun, I get to sell produce and I get to learn a great work ethic and I really like doing it," Mallory said.
Mallory says she enjoys the time with her grandparents and she also enjoys a paycheck.
"I'll split the money and put some of it in my wallet so that if me and my mom go out shopping, I'll be able to spend it on something that I want. And then the other half of it will go into a piggy bank to be saved up for something that I'll see that I want in the future," she said.
Mallory's mom, Anna Kolin, also worked at a young age helping out on her parents' farm. She is pretty proud of her daughter.
"Every Saturday morning she's up at 6:30 in the morning -- every Saturday morning -- to go down and work at the Farmers Market. She has a goal. She's the only 12 year old I know who bought her own iWatch," Anna said.
Anna now works at Fifth Third Bank, helping others make good decisions about their personal wealth and she says it starts early in life.
"Around the age of 6 is a really good time to start really having some simple conversations with your kids about saving money and about money, but really, you can start to have those conversations even younger," Anna said.
To get the ball rolling, Anna suggests playing simple games with your kids, like identifying coins or playing store. You can also allow them to help you make real-life shopping decisions.
"Even if you take your kids to the grocery store, you can have those comparison shopping things. Do you get the generic green beans or do you go with the name brand? You can have those types of conversations," Anna said.
They can even help you clip coupons and pay the cashier with cash from a family save jar, to have a better understanding that everything costs money.
Fifth Third, along with many other banks, offers savings accounts specifically for children. Kids can use the accounts for things like birthday or Christmas money, and you can encourage them to save for the future.
"When they get a little older, we have something called a Goal Setter Account. Kids can open up this account with a goal in mind, whether it's a car or a trip or something they want to take. When they reach that goal, there's a bonus incentive that comes in," Anna said.
If your child gets an allowance, financial experts recommend having chores attached. In a high-tech world, there are apps available such as RoosterMoney and Greenlight Card, which allow parents to manage chores and earnings from their phones.
Experts also say parents should set a good example. Stick to budgets, avoid impulse buys, and teach them the importance of giving, as well.
"Being able to teach kids those fundamental lessons at an early age is imperative and part of the financial health of their future," Anna said.