Try Harry Potter to teach about money and economics

More so than most college educators, Lynne Stover knows how children’s literature can be put to use teaching valuable lessons about money and economics. Her recommended titles range from the blockbuster Harry Potter books to hidden gems such as Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.

Foster kids can overcome extra financial obstacles

Eddye Vanderkwaak’s dramatic transformation might not have happened if not for Opportunity Passport, a financial education program developed by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative that teaches participants about budgeting, banking and other money matters.

Sneakers sneak in a money lesson

By rolling out tthe LeBron X Nike Plus for $270, Lebron James and Nike have provided parents with a perfect opportunity to discuss smart money habits with their youngsters on saving, planning, goal setting and even how to spend NBA money.

Older iPhones are about to get cheaper

If your teen can live with an older version of the iPhone that’s not totally up to date, you should be able to save some big bucks on marked down iPhone 4s and other iPhones in the weeks ahead. And, the experts say, the deals could get even better around the holiday shopping season.

A school lesson about identity theft

Back-to-school season tends to bring out identity thieves — along with warnings to parents on how to keep their youngsters’ birth certificates, Social Security numbers and other personal identification information from falling into the wrong hands.

K-State professor develops textbook flexibility

Predictions that electronic textbooks would replace traditional books on college campuses have so far proved overly optimistic. But Brian Lindshield, an assistant professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, remains a big believer.

Pay attention to your electronic payments

Paying bills electronically sounds so foolproof. You have no checks to write, no need for envelopes and stamps, and no late-night drives to an out-of-the-way post office to drop a bill in the mail to avoid late fees. But that doesn’t mean the service is glitch-free.

Report details the high debt from higher education

Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on college financial aid, scoured federal records from 1992 through 2008 to come up with a more complete picture of students who tap the loan window the most. Kantrowitz’s research shows that less than 1 percent of students graduate from college with debt exceeding $100,000.

The first college course is finance

When it comes to the tab for tuition, room and board, textbooks and even travel expenses, there aren’t many surprises at this point. Most of those checks have been written. But knowing how much of a bankroll your new college student will need to cover monthly personal expenses requires a bit of math and trial and error.

Don’t be soft when it comes to scams

You may have trained your kids to protect what’s in their wallet and what’s on their computer, but that won’t stop scam artists from trying new ways to trick them. One of the latest is called the Microsoft scam.

Cellphones aren’t just for adults anymore

Not too many years ago, kids had to wait until high school to get a cellphone. It was a rite of passage. But now more parents are providing tweens with wireless devices, and in such numbers that marketing experts call this age group the new growth market for cellphone carriers.

Readers offer cable bill fixes

Whenever I struggle to recommend ways for families to save money in their household budgets, I can count on readers to come to the rescue. Take the monthly cable bill. This has been a persistent thorn in my side, especially since our cable television service is packaged with Internet and phone.

Income-based repayment eases student loan crunch

Income-based repayment is one of the federal government’s best-kept secrets, and therein lies the problem. It’s called , or IBR. It’s a creative way to help borrowers — in particular those not earning a lot of money — shrink their monthly student loan repayments.

Check out these financial lessons organized by age

Parents want to know when allowances should be introduced, the right age to explain wants and needs and when to broach the dangers of credit cards. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a new list — endorsed by a federal commission — of 20 age-appropriate financial lessons for children.

Consider individual health coverage for your student

One thing about health care coverage: It never fails to leave you challenged and confused. The latest evidence is that many colleges and universities are phasing out or scaling back their school-sponsored medical plans sold to students. Blame it mostly on escalating costs associated with the higher coverage requirements of health care reform.

Consider car sharing for your student

Your college freshman-to-be is lobbying relentlessly for a car on campus this fall. You’re just as adamant that the set of wheels remain in the garage and that he learn to take the bus, bike or just walk when the need arises for a shopping trip, a haircut or weekend entertainment.

Take advantage now of student loan consolidation

The Special Direct Consolidation Loan program offers advantages over traditional plans, the biggest being a 0.25 percentage point decrease in the borrowing rate. That’s because these “bargains” can be expensive and impulsive and have more than the usual strings attached. But a special one-time loan consolidation offer from the U.S. Department of Education is an exception to my rule.

Young workers need the right attitude

I confess I’ve had my share of cringe-inducing customer service experiences with young workers who have brought a “my parents made me take this minimum wage job” attitude to work. It’s easily apparent when that is the case. That’s why a sign at a rental car agency made such an impression on me.

Summer jobs introduce kids to Uncle Sam, taxes

“You didn’t tell me how MUCH they would take out in taxes.” Expect to hear those words from exasperated teenagers or college students over the next few weeks as they set aside their calculators and toss their textbooks to start summer jobs.