Ever wonder where kids get their poor money habits? This is likely a trait they're inheriting from their parents. The good news is there's help for parents and their children at a newly designed Website, http://www.themint.org/, from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

Relaunched today, the http://www.themint.org/ gives families a fun, yet practical, way to address financial education. This, as the news about the poor money habits of Americans looks rather grim: The U.S. Commerce Department reports that the nation's personal savings rate for 2006 fell to a negative one.

Along with tips and games, the site provides kids and parents with money fundamentals, like saving, spending, investing, sharing and protecting money. The fun, fresh new look of http://www.themint.org/ is meant to strengthen the financial literacy efforts of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, which partnered with the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE) in 1997 to create the original http://www.themint.org/.

"The new http://www.themint.org/ is a resource we hope will help families make smarter choices with their dollars," said Gil Llanas, director of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. "It gives kids and parents practical ideas to get back on track financially -- a change direly needed in today's free-spending culture."

Fun for Kids

Kids who visit the just-released site will find familiar sections on earning, saving, spending, and investing, which have been updated since 2002. New to the site is a section on "safeguarding," the concept of insuring your home, apartment, car, or health to protect them. In addition, new stories in the "giving" section illustrate that donating can mean more than dollars; it can mean volunteering time and energy to causes kids believe in. Children will also be able to explore newly designed interactive "Try It" activities where they'll learn how to write a check, use a calculator to compute compound interest, and make smart choices with money.

Tips for Parents

Today, more than ever, parents play a crucial role in the financial development of their children. A 2004 study by the Jump$tart Coalition revealed that 90% of kids learn how to manage money at home. The updated http://www.themint.org/ provides moms and dads with easy-to-follow tips to help their kids prepare for a better financial future. The "Tips for Parents" section encourages parents to instill in their kids the fundamentals of saving throughout their growing years. Parents will find ideas on how they can turn everyday activities, such as shopping, into teachable moments. Finally, moms and dads can learn when to introduce allowances into the household.

Yet to be effective teachers, parents must practice what they preach. A 2004 study by Northwestern Mutual found that the majority of parents were not comfortable teaching their children about money. To fill this need, the updated http://www.themint.org/ helps parents get their own finances in order first. Two interactive "Try It" games test parents' financial knowledge. One game, a financial check-up, identifies their financial habits to discover areas for improvement. A second game gauges general knowledge of financial topics, including stocks, bonds and retirement tools.

Ideas for Teachers

Finally the updated site includes ready-to-use curriculum for teachers, developed by the NCEE. Educators can find a variety of tools to help kids learn the fundamentals of budgeting, credit, and understanding how the stock market works.

The new look for http://www.themint.org/ coincides with the celebration of Northwestern Mutual's 150th anniversary in 2007, as well National Financial Literacy Month, which occurs each April. April has been designated National Financial Literacy Month by the Jump$tart Coalition on Financial Literacy. The organization seeks to bring to national attention to the critical need for financial education for our country's young people. Kids ages 4-12 spent an estimated $51.8 billion in 2006. High school seniors averaged 53 percent on a test of their knowledge of financial matters, according to a Jump$tart in 2006.

To learn more about Financial Literacy Month, visit the Jump$tart Coalition's Web site at http://www.jumpstart.org/. For additional information on http://www.themint.org/ or other educational and community programs offered through Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, visit http://www.nmfn.com/.

For decades Northwestern Mutual has been committed to improving quality of life by concentrating its charitable contributions in the areas of Health and Human Services, Education, and Arts and Culture. Last year the Northwestern Mutual Foundation contributed $14.4 million to community betterment, both locally and nationally.

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual), the nation's largest direct provider of individual life insurance according to A. M. Best, has always received the highest possible ratings for insurance financial strength from Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, and A. M. Best. In addition to life insurance, the company, its subsidiaries and affiliates are also providers of annuities, mutual funds, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance.

Among Northwestern Mutual's affiliated companies are those that comprise the Russell Investment Group, which provide investment management and advisory services; Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a wholly-owned company of Northwestern Mutual, broker-dealer and member NASD and SIPC; and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, a wholly-owned company of Northwestern Mutual, limited purpose federal savings bank and a registered investment adviser which provides financial planning, investment management and trust services. A subsidiary, Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, offers long-term care insurance. Further information on Northwestern Mutual can be found at: http://www.nmfn.com/.

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SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual Foundation

CONTACT: Jean Towell of Northwestern Mutual Foundation, 1-800-323-7033,
mediarelations@northwesternmutual.com

Web site: http://www.nmfn.com/
http://www.themint.org/
http://www.jumpstart.org/