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Life Lessons: Financial planning for kids

Published On: May 13 2013 05:00:00 AM EDT

Life lessons financial planning for kids

How young is too young to start saving for retirement?

The answer might surprise you.

Some financial planners say new parents should think about bottles, diapers and retirement accounts for their babies.


Financial experts say parents can take small steps now that can have big benefits later.

"The vast majority of self-made millionaires did so by saving 20 percent of their income," says Rick Rodgers, who is a CPA, president of a wealth management company and author of a retirement planning book, " The New Three Legged Stool."

Rodgers offers these tips to parents:

* Set up a mutual fund - Take half of what you've been spending on gifts, toys, games, etc. and invest it in the fund for your child.

"Even just what was saved could grow to a million dollars without ever adding to it."

* Encourage family and friends to contribute to the mutual fund account you’ve started instead of buying gifts for birthdays and holidays.

* Put in small amounts on a regular basis.  Rodgers say that's a better strategy than waiting to accumulate a larger sum.

* Get in the habit of saving something regularly. 

"So putting in $25, $30 away doesn't seem like much but the time that our kids have compounding over 20 25, 30 years -- this is pretty significant."

* Use the refund

Currently the child tax credit is $1,000 per child until age 17. Discipline yourself to save the credit when it is returned to you as a refund.

"Once we're 50 or 55, and we need to save for retirement, time is now against us as opposed to being our ally when we're younger."

Rodgers says just $5,000 contributed to a Roth IRA each year for five years starting at age 16 could be worth more than $1 million by the time a child reaches age 65.

And in a Roth IRA all that growth would be tax-free when taken out.