Financial literacy for kids can seem intimidating, especially if it’s a skill you don’t feel equipped with yourself. While the socio-economic backgrounds of children can impact opportunities they may face, helping them feel prepared about money can influence their overall relationship with it.
Don’t shy away from difficult topics, like the possibility of debt and applying for a credit building loan, when having money conversations with your children. When children practice proper money management techniques early, they’re more inclined to make effective financial decisions throughout life.
This post shares carefully selected games and activities to teach kids of all ages money management best practices to make more confident decisions when it comes to their wallets.
Teaching Financial Literacy
Teaching financial literacy at a young age creates opportunities for a better financial future through effective money management. Surprisingly, children as young as preschool-age can learn basic money skills that will help them navigate the complexities of finances later in life.
Start with the basics. Consider the key components of financial literacy when teaching your children about money.
- Earning: Explain the different ways you can generate income such as investments, day-jobs and careers, and charitable donations and assistance.
- Saving: Teach your children to withhold a portion of their income to reach a financial goal like buying a house or going to college.
- Investing: Talk to your kids about different ways to invest money including saving it in accounts with a high annual percentage yield or by investing in appreciating assets.
- Spending: Explain how to be accountable for your spending to live within your means, like how to calculate a realistic budget and stick to it.
- Borrowing: Teach your child about how to borrow responsibly. Help them understand the importance of paying back loans to build credit and how borrowing money responsibly can be an investment in their future.
Financial Literacy Activities for Preschoolers
Allowing your child to make decisions early on helps make the decision-making process easier as they continue to develop. Follow these simple financial literacy activities for preschoolers to help teach them the basics like identifying and counting money.
Coins and Dollars Matching Activity
First things first. Your little one needs to know how to recognize coins and dollar bills. Use this simple matching game to teach them to identify pennies, dimes, quarters, and different bills. All they need to do is draw a line from one currency to its matching counterpart. If they’re not ready to hold the pen, have them point to the correct answer and help mark their choices.
Financial Literacy Activities for Elementary Students
When your kids reach elementary age they can start to grasp concepts like earning and saving money. These activities teach them about the limited quantities of resources and help create a foundation of needs and wants plus the time and effort it takes to save for each.
Personalized Piggy Bank for Saving Money
In this activity, your child can visually see savings accrue by placing money in a clear jar until they meet their financial goals. Doing so introduces them to the concept that saving earns them a reward.
Need Versus Want Activity
Understanding basic needs versus wants is critical in developing financial literacy for kids. Your child should understand what basic human necessities need to be met before they can use their income to purchase other wants. Print this simple activity and have your little one circle the items that are necessities versus wants — then have a candid discussion about any discrepancies.
Financial Literacy Worksheets Middle School Students
Middle school tweens and teens are developed enough to understand more complex topics. Not only can they understand what they’re spending money on, but they’re ready to record income and expenses, plus familiarize themselves with more complex financial terminology.
Credit Score Word Search
Although your teen may not fully understand an annual percentage rate or debt-to-income ratios just yet, exposing them to these terms will get them comfortable with financial processes, like building credit, by making them seem less intimidating down the road. This word search defines a credit score and features 20 words that are associated with borrowing money.
A budget that accounts for every cent can help people save more and spend less by making decisions on what they want to pay for and what’s worth saving money on. These immersive games help tweens and teens visualize budgeting in real-life scenarios.
- Spent (Names for Change) http://playspent.org/
- Money Magic (Play Money Magic) https://playmoneymagic.com/
- Gen I Revolution (Council for Economic Education) https://www.genirevolution.org/
Financial Literacy Activities for High School Students
Once your child reaches high school, they’re likely working, considering colleges or trade schools, or learning how to manage their time and resources in more intricate ways. By this age, they should have a simple understanding of taxes, simple interest, credit, and debt. By gamifying this complex financial material, high school students have an opportunity to grasp these topics in real-life situations to further build their skills in an engaging way.
Tax, Simple Interest, and Debt Activity
These word problems aim to provide financial scenarios young adults may face in the real world. The problems challenge them to calculate tax on their own, understand how simple interest can grow investments, and how quickly debt is accrued on a loan — plus how long it takes to pay back even a small borrowed amount.
Loans, building credit, and paying it all back properly can be a challenging topic regardless of age. These simulations and gamified money lessons create an engaging way for children and parents alike to practice using loans responsibly.
- Credit Card Simulator (iGrad) https://www.igrad.com/games/credit-card-simulator.aspx
- Build Your Stax (Stax) https://buildyourstax.com/
- Payback (Nex Gen Personal Finance) https://www.timeforpayback.com/
- Credit Clash (Credit Clash) https://www.creditclash.com/
Additional Financial Literacy Resources for Parents
While these money management activities are a great starting point, financial literacy involves continuous learning. Markets, wages, and rates are constantly changing — which makes studying money a lifelong practice. The financial resources below can provide additional insight to more complicated topics for both you and your child to tackle when you’re ready for the next step.
- U.S. Mint https://www.usmint.gov/learn/educators
- Financial Educators Council https://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/financial-literacy-for-kids/
- Financial Literacy and Education Commission https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/consumer-policy/financial-literacy-and-education-commission
- National Credit Union Administration Resource Center https://www.ncua.gov/consumers/financial-literacy-resources
Especially at young ages, your children are soaking up your habits. Set a good example when it comes to saving, spending, investing, and borrowing money responsibly. Financial literacy for kids isn’t always easy, but the sooner your children start to grasp these concepts, the more apt they’ll be for a better financial future.