Providing children with a thorough understanding of financial literacy at an early age, is vital to ensure proper money management skills later in life. Setting a realistic budget, responsibly managing credit and debt, saving for unexpected expenses, and learning how to invest will all be important life skills for every young adult to master. Unfortunately, there are many students who enter into adulthood without entirely understanding how to manage their finances properly. Financial literacy is defined as a “meaning-making process”, in which individuals use acquired skills, external resources, and contextual knowledge to accurately process information and make competent decisions in regards to potential consequences of their financial decisions. Although there are lessons to be learned from trial and error, financial literacy is about managing finances proactively and with intention. For adults or college-age students, improvements of financial literacy can be made by educating yourself through reading books about saving money and setting financial goals, asking for guidance from a financial counselor, taking classes within your local community, or finding online resources which provide tools and assistance to help make good financial decisions. Unfortunately for children and young students, financial literacy is often left out of the typical education system’s curriculum. Parents and guardians become the primary educators when it comes to teaching children the money management skills which will allow for a strong foundation of lasting financial competence.

Grades K-5

Elementary school is a fantastic time to teach children the importance and value of earning and saving money. Begin using money as a means of teaching when toddlers first learn how to count, allow children to run their own lemonade stand and yard sales during the summer, enforce good saving and spending habits with allowance, and begin explaining price differences during grocery store trips.

Grades K-1: An Introduction to Saving and Spending (PDF) – This lesson plan will help students to understand why saving money is important, and they will be able to list the benefits of saving and create a simple savings plan.

Lesson Plan: Ages 9-11 – Uncle Jed’s Barbershop (PDF) – Here, students will listen to Uncle Jed’s story of being able to save enough money to buy his own barbershop, despite some significant setbacks along the way. The students will learn about saving money, setting savings goals, opportunity cost, and segregation, as well as investigating what it takes to reach a savings goal through a card game.

Hands on Banking: Money Skills You Need For Life  – The Hands-On Banking courses include free instructor guides with classroom lessons and activities which will help students to learn through real-world scenarios and group discussions to teach financial skills.

Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club – This animated series features Warren Buffett as a mentor to a group of entrepreneurial kids whose adventures lead them to encounter financial and business problems to solve. The program teaches the basics of good financial decision-making skills, as well as some of the basics of starting a business.

Money As You Learn: Educator Tools – Money As You Learn provides teachers with Common Core aligned texts, lessons, and tasks that connect the concepts with real life applications, while equipping students with the knowledge needed to make smart decisions.

Financial Literacy for Kids – Find financial literacy lesson plans and activities for Pre-school, Pre-K, Kindergarten, First and Second grade.

Finding Fabulous Financial Literacy Vocabulary Lesson Plan – This lesson plan, created for grades K-2, introduces a variety of “fancy” words, which include descriptive economic vocabulary embedded within the text that relate to both the economic standards in social studies, as well as real-world mathematics and financial literacy.

Grades 6-8

Many middle school students have little understanding of finance and economics, however they are starting to enter the stage of their lives where they can start taking on some more responsibility. Have pre-teens and teenagers start working jobs or doing extra work around the house and neighborhood to earn money including babysitting, mowing lawns, cleaning, helping in the family business, or even starting their own mini-business. These are all excellent ways to instill the value of hard work and the importance of saving money. It’s okay to allow for some financial mistakes at this age, as this is typically the best time for children to learn from them.

What Can I Afford: Lesson Plan for Grades 6-8  – In this lesson plan, students will explore the costs of various cell phone plans based on a vignette that appears in the “show”. The lesson concludes with students comparing various types of banking accounts to determine which one will yield the highest returns if the money saved from the cell phones were placed in different accounts.

Economics and Personal Finance Education Resources – Here you’ll find award-winning and free videos, lessons, and online courses to teach about economics, personal finance, and money.

Financial Literacy Lessons for Grades K-8 – Scholastic’s financial literacy lesson plans for grades K-8 include saving, planning, goal setting, money basics, etc.

Once Upon a Dime: Grades 6-9 (PDF) – This lesson plan examines the development of modern economy on a mythical island, as it presents the basic economic concepts of specialization, barter, money, banking, and inflation.

Practical Money Skills  – Through its global financial literacy initiative, Visa’s award-winning Practical Money Skills program strives to link consumers, educators, banks, and governments to the tools and resources needed to help individuals of all ages develop their money management skills.

Consumer Jungle  – Consumer Jungle offers financial literacy games online, which will allow kids to learn more about personal finance with hands-on interactive activities.

The Allowance Game (PDF) – The Allowance Game, from Iowa State University, will allow kids to learn how to make smart decisions on saving vs. spending their allowance.

My Classroom Economy – This program allows educators to teach children financial responsibility through fun and experimental learning.

Grades 9-12

According to Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, the average student who graduates from high school lacks basic skills in personal money management. In fact, many cannot balance a checkbook, and have little understanding of basic concepts involving earning, spending, saving, and investing. This is a growing problem in our society today, since there are more debt options, higher debt amounts, costlier student loans, bankruptcy age averages are starting younger, and adults are starting to save later.

Finance in the Classroom – Personal finance materials for K-12 educators, students, and parents to help prepare our youth to be money smart.

Money As You Learn – Tools for educators to integrate personal finance into teaching the common core.

Teach Banzai – Banzai is a free online financial education platform for teachers and students, which has been designed to help students learn through real-life scenarios on budgeting, taxes, medical expenses, credit cards, banking and other financial topics.

Gen i Revolution: An Online Personal Finance Game – Middle School and High School students can learn important personal finance skills as they place and compete against fellow classmates through sixteen missions.

Bachelor’s in Accounting Online – High School students can prepare to earn their bachelor’s in accounting 100% online from Maryville University