Financial Education for the Family: For Kids 9 & Over

Kids in general like money, and kids ages nine to 12 are no exception. They start to realize the power of money and what it can buy for them in the future. You can have key conversations with kids about money at this age, including the following:

  • The dangers of online shopping: In addition to savings conversations, you can open up a conversation with kids about online shopping. Talk about how online spending makes it hard to visualize what you buy because you don’t use real money — you use PayPal or a credit card. Always encourage kids to ask first before they buy something online.
  • Help with in-store shopping: When you shop, ask kids to help you compare prices. Generic brands can help you save money.
  • Consider alternatives: Talk about alternatives that can save money, such as borrowing a book from the library instead of buying it.

Financial Conversations to Have with Kids 13 to 15 

Teens can understand a lot of sophisticated conversations about money, and it’s time to start introducing some even more complex conversations.

  • Talk about delayed gratification. Instead of opting for buying something now, make sure you talk through learning how to wait and save instead of having to have it now.
  • Talk about peer pressure. Kids at this age also really want what their friends have, such as new gadgets or new clothing. Encourage them not to cave in to peer pressure so they can make their own individual decisions about money.
  • Explain investing. Yes, now. Show kids a compound interest chart and show them that they’ll end up millionaires if they start investing money in the stock market now. It’s a powerful lesson that only you will teach your kids. Schools don’t tackle this at all.

Financial Conversations to Have with Kids 16 to 18 

Naturally, one of the most important things to talk about with older teens involves the costs of college. College costs, from tuition to fees for books, costs a lot of money, and you can start having those conversations right away in high school. 

  • College loans: You must talk about loans and what it means for your long-term finances. Students should understand that they must pay back loans. Help them visualize how much loans cost by using an online calculator to summarize payments at graduation compared to their potential income (based on their potential major). They may even want to get started saving for college on their own once they realize how much it might cost. 
  • Credit card debt: Talk to your kids about the dangers of credit card debt before college. Credit card offers will start to come to your child — maybe even during college — and it could entrap them for life. Talk to them about what credit card debt means and how interest builds if they don’t pay off their credit card each month. Explain how much responsibility a credit card entails and why they need to remain really careful about debt. 
  • Insurance: Explain how necessary insurance is, from health insurance to life insurance to an emergency fund. Your teen should always prepare for the unexpected, from a flat tire to a major health emergency. 

Don’t be afraid to talk about any mistakes you made with credit with your older teen. These conversations might not be any fun at all but they can help your teen avoid the same mistakes you’ve made in the past.


College Savings Calculator is a hypothetical tool that demonstrates how monthly contributions, age-based asset rebalancing, and tax savings may impact the long-term value of your account, and do not take into account a portfolio’s underlying investment management fees. Calculations assume the private institution cost inflation is 2.8%, public out of state cost inflation is 3.9%, public in state cost inflation is 2.7%. Portfolio is assumed to have only stocks and bonds. Monthly equity returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the stock market (SPY). Monthly fixed income returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the bond market index (AGG). The current college expenses are provided by the Actual account performance may differ due to market fluctuations, changes in recurring investments, and asset allocation. The information provided here is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent actual or future performance of any investment option and is not intended to predict or project the investment performance of any security or index.

Ksenia Yudina, CFA, MBA

Founder and CEO

Ksenia is the Founder and CEO of U-Nest, the first mobile app that makes it easy for families to save for college. As an entrepreneur and finance professional, Ksenia has focused on alleviating the impact of student debt on families across the economic spectrum. Previously, Ksenia was a Vice President atCapital Group/American Funds, the largest 529 provider in the U.S. In this role, she played a leadership role in helping parents plan and manage their finances, with a focus on the future well-being of their children. Prior to Capital Group/American Funds, she was founder of a residential real estate company. Ksenia earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from CaliforniaState University Northridge, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Mike Van Kempen

Chief Operating Officer

Mike joined U-Nest in September 2019 as COO. He was previously at Acorns, a financial wellness platform, where he spearheaded the analytics and growth initiatives. Mike successfully expandedAcorns’ paid acquisition strategy, adding over 4.5 million investment accounts. Mike began his career in strategy & analytics at Belly, a Chicago-based loyalty startup in 2012. At Belly, Mike led projects that fueled growth across all aspects of the business, growing the customer base from1,000 to over 11,000 merchants, and accumulating a membership of over 2 million customers.Mike holds a B.B.A. in Finance from Loyola University of Chicago.

Steve Buchanan

Chief Technology Officer

Steve has over 20 years of experience in delivering digital innovations in the financial sector. Steve previously orchestrated product architecture and innovation as a Solutions Architect/ Fintech consultant at Union Bank. Prior to Union Bank, he was Chief Architect and Director of Engineering at Calypso, a Silicon Valley startup, where he architected and built multiple financial solutions. He was also Head of Global Integrations at Globe One in Vietnam where he integrated its Peer-to-Peer lending products into core banking solutions. Steve also built the first ever electronic Equities &Equity Options trading systems for Scottish stock brokers Wood Mackenzie (acquired by CountyNatWest). He is a graduate of Edinburgh University.

Peter Mansfield

Chief Marketing Officer

Peter has built an impressive track record in multiple financial industry segments including payments, credit/prepaid cards and lending. He has played an instrumental role at a succession of financial industry leaders, co-founding companies such as Brand3 (acquired by American Express) and PropertyBridge (acquired by Moneygram), and, as the early stage marketing lead at Marqeta (where he was team member number two), BillFloat and WallabyFinancial (acquired by Bankrate).He has helped fast-growth companies reach an aggregate market value of close to $8 billion. Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Angila, UK.

Sonya Kidman

Client Relationship Manager

Sonya Kidman is a Customer Success professional with a decade of experience in advocating for consumer through user research and genuine empathy. Sonya specializes in user behavior and regularly attends national and global training sessions in wellness and people analytics tools. Sonya is a true global citizen was born in Russia, grew up in Israel, lived and worked in Canada and NewZealand. That global expertise along with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Tel AvivUniversity have helped to shape a bullet-prof Sonya's framework to develop a winning customer strategy.

Frank Mastrangelo

Board Member

One part banker and one part technologist, Frank spent his early days with the Annenberg Foundation and PNC Bank. His career path led him to Jefferson Bank, where he led the build-out of its electronic banking platforms, and where he would forge a powerful alliance with The Bancorp co-founder Betsy Z. Cohen. As President and COO of The Bancorp from its inception in 1999 Frank played a critical role in helping the organization become an industry bellwether for branchless financial services and a global leader in payments. For this, he has become a widely respected fintech expert, and thought-leader. Frank was recognized in 2013 by Banking Innovation, a leading industry journal, as an “Innovator to Watch.” and as one of the innovators shaping the future of banking. Frank is a graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania.