Kings of the Hill when it comes to money smarts: Denise and Terrance Hill lead by example by demonstrating sensible money management principles for their children.

Author:Brooks, Rodney
Position:Wealth for Life

THE CHILDREN OF DENISE AND TERRANCE HILL, AGES 21,12, AND 10, HAVE NEVER received an allowance and wouldn't think of asking their parents for a $200 pair of shoes.

"There is no such thing as allowance," says Denise Hill, 46, a New York State court officer- sergeant. "They have to earn everything they want. That could be by doing something as simple as walking on daddy's back or massaging mom's feet. But we don't do allowance."

All three children have online bank accounts. Three years ago Denise told them to do research on to find a bank that best fit their individual needs.

"Our son (Terrance Jr.) chose a bank based on the computer sawiness of it," she says. "[His bank] had a program for kids to show them how fun it was to save your money. He was more drawn to that."

Their youngest daughter, Kaila, "was just trying to get the most interest." She chose a bank that offered the best rate on a certificate of deposit. She's more into it than Terrance Jr., so she also manages his money.

Their oldest daughter, Liara, a college student, has had bank accounts since 2009. "She was looking for convenience," Hill says. "She has several accounts."

The Hills have been married for 2 3 years. Husband Terrance, 48, is a member of the U.S. Park Police. It was in 2007 that they enrolled Liara in World of Money (worldofmoney. org), a program that teaches young people about managing their financial lives.

"My own finances were raggedy," Denise says. "So I did everything I could to interest them in education."

Though the World of Money program was important for the Hill children--all three have now attended--the lessons and buy-in from their parents was key. Most children their age, and even older, lack a basic understanding of personal finance, experts say.

The most comprehensive survey on the financial literacy of high school students was done by the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy from 1997 to 2008. It did not paint a pretty picture. The average score on a 31 -question financial literacy exam was 57.3% in 1997. By 2008, the average score dropped to 48.3%, the lowest ever.

"We believe that if we were to do the survey again now, the results would not be tremendously different," says Laura Levine, president and CEO of JumpStart (www. "We have seen other assessments. Generally speaking, young people still don't know enough about personal finance."

Levine says parents are critical in guiding their children to be...

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