12/14/2011 03:39 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2012

Giving Our Young People the Gift of Smart Money Management

One thing is certain this holiday shopping season: consumers are willing to spend the extra money to buy that perfect holiday gift. This year's Black Friday sales set an all-time high with consumers spending $11.4 billion, a rise of seven percent over last year. According to ShopperTrak, which gathers stores' data, this is the largest amount ever spent on Black Friday. With Americans spending more, it is important that consumers are armed with the information they need to make smart financial choices.

These record-high spending numbers demonstrate the imperative need for today's youth to understand the importance of creating and using a budget. Junior Achievement (JA) programs help young people establish a solid financial foundation; in addition, children and teens today need to learn from their parents and role models why it is important to maintain fiscal health.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, now is the perfect time to have that conversation with your children and discuss the importance of saving, budgeting and setting financial goals. In Junior Achievement's 2011 Teens and Personal Finance Survey sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, 92 percent of teens said that they learn money management from their parents, however, less than half said that they discuss money management as a family. Junior Achievement urges parents to talk to their children and teens in order to help them become responsible consumers as adults.

Junior Achievement has provided parents with fun, age-appropriate resources to help them discuss money-management concepts with their children. Junior Achievement $ave, USA provides children and their parents important lessons on budgeting, the value of saving, the role of insurance and other important financial security matters.

Junior Achievement programs have been shown to positively affects students' futures: programs such as JA Personal Finance®, JA Finance Park®, JA Economics for Success®, JA BizTown®, and JA More than Money® are designed to teach financial literacy as a pillar of student success. These programs also support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and leadership.

Research shows that JA programs positively affect youth attitudes and that impact on youth attitudes drives student behaviors. Junior Achievement remains focused on equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, just as we have done for nearly a century.

For more information on Junior Achievement's financial literacy programs, go to