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by Broderick Perkins

(9/23/2011) Erate Exclusive - Get it? Dough Main. Domain. The main topic is dough. Not the yeasty, rising kind. The green stuff. Money.

The new web site's name alone is enough to draw you in.

But the same thought that went into naming this digital domain went into the site's suite of features -- including game play to draw in kids -- to teach families money smarts.'s timing is also on the money.

"The economic uncertainty in our country right now is palpable, and how this is trickling down to our youth is a very important part of the conversation," said Kenneth Damato, president and chief executive officer of DoughMain.

Indeed financial counseling often comes too late, after consumers fall behind on their debts, during bankruptcy, when it's time for a mortgage modification or other big debt workout.

Yet studies show again and again, financial counseling, money-matters education obtained before things get rough helps consumers stay in the black or get through hard times relatively unscathed.

DoughMain is aligned with a growing movement in more than a dozen states mandating that some form of financial education be taught in the class room.

"While some schools across the country are beginning to cover select topics of financial literacy, parents should also actively teach financial education on a daily basis at home by creating 'teachable moments' to avoid a future generation of financially illiterate adults," Domato added.

The site is packed with features and tools designed by parents and teachers to coordinate family financial education and planning.

The site comes with a host of features, including:

• Financial education. At the root of the site is information that jibes with standards created by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. The standards outline personal finance skills that elementary, middle and high school students should master. They are financial responsibility, income and careers, planning and money management, credit and debt, risk management and insurance and saving and investing.

• Family organizer tools. The Chores Tracker helps organize chores and has the option to plug in the Allowance Tool or Dough Points reward system to help kids get the work ethic. Chores can earn cash or points used toward activities, say video game time, sleepovers, or a pizza outing. There's also a Family Calendar to keep track of home, school and community activities, paid and unpaid.

• Spending and saving. Users can link to bank accounts to give kids hands on experience taking charge of their financial futures. Cash earned doing chores can be deposited to a prepaid debit card kids can monitor for interest earned and cash spent.

• Money games. Through interactive play, the Fun Vault (ages 5 and up) teaches key financial concepts (recognizing currency, wants vs. needs). Sand Dollar City (8 to 12) teaches smart shopping, saving, spending, banking and other skills as players attempt to get a merchant out of debt to save the store. The link to the I Rule Money videos helps teens learn about savings and checking accounts, jobs, credit scores, taxes, interest, investing and a host of other topics.

DoughMain offers the following tips to help parents teach their kids about money matters in this uncertain economy:

• Put your money where your mouth is. Parents are often more prepared to talk to their children about sex, alcohol or bullying than they are to discuss finances and money values. But parents are urged to start financial literacy education with children who are as young as 5 years old.

• Families that save together stay together. Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or an upcoming family vacation, set a savings goal and get every member of the family involved in saving money to fund the activity. This teaches saving, financial goals, expenses, wise spending and other skills.

• Follow the money. Have your kids guess the total expenses of the next outing. As the outing progresses, have the kids write down the cost of every expenditure. When the trip is over tally up the cost and discuss how keeping track of expenses helps you stay on budget.

• Pay the bills with your kids. Sit down with your kids and go through a monthly utility bill or two showing them the costs and how they add up. Discuss the importance of paying bills on time.

• Take teaching to the bank. Get a bank account for your kids to teach saving, check cashing, debit cards, online banking, balance alerts, personal loans and direct deposit. Explain the value and benefits of the services.

DoughMain is chock full of financial literacy opportunities wrapped in an easy to navigate interface -- for both parents and kids.

Bookmark it.

"Site To See" is a DeadlineNews.Com series of reviews of content-heavy websites deemed unique, consumer-friendly, informative and easy to use.

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