Pennies Saved

They may not be able to drive for another decade, but the most coveted grown-up possession in the minds of the grade-school kids Nan Cohen has met is a hot set of wheels: the Hummer H2 and Mini Cooper, in that order.

Cohen, a certified financial planner at Cleveland Financial Group in Solon, helped devise an eight-week program to teach kids in second and third grades not only the value of a dollar, but also what they can do with it. Her "Value of Money" program introduces kids to such concepts as spending, investing, savings and philanthropy by way of a transparent piggy bank divided into quarters.

"You'd be amazed how much they know about money," Cohen says. "I'm in my mid-40s and when I was growing up you didn't talk about money. Money was almost a taboo subject — a 'birds and the bees' topic. ... They really have an amazing grasp. And they're still at an age where they really learn."

Ωchools that participated in the 2003 inaugural program included Orange School District, Kenston Local and Agnon Schools. Lincoln Financial Group, the parent company of Cleveland Financial Group, will test the program in four other markets before rolling it out nationally.

"The teachers tell us the kids paid more attention to this section than any special section they've ever taught," Cohen says. "The workbook and the pig and the curriculum — it's all designed to be a fun experience."

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