Financial Literacy for Kids to Teach Good Money Habits + Printables

Chang Fu
November 2, 2020

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 conversing with your children about finances. When children practice proper money management techniques early, they’re more inclined to make effective financial decisions throughout life. 

This post shares 15 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.

Table of Contents:

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. 

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Counting Money Games

The sooner your child starts practicing basic math, the easier it will be to understand how money is earned and spent. These games are easy for young children to practice with or without parental supervision to understand the basics of counting money. 

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. 

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Help create your child’s personalized piggy bank in five simple steps. 

  • Step 1: Help create the saving goal for your future finance extraordinaire and write it on the printable tag.
  • Step 2: Cut the label on the dotted line. 
  • Step 3: Assist your child with poking a hole in the tag. 
  • Step 4: Use a string to tie the label around a clear jar. 
  • Step 5: Have your child mark off each day, or week, that passes in the blank boxes until they reach their financial goal. 

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.  

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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. 

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Budgeting Games

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. 

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. 

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Games about Loans and Building Credit

Loans, building credit, and paying it all back properly can be a challenging topic regardless of age. These simulations and payment gamification lessons create an engaging way for children and parents alike to practice using loans responsibly.  

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. 

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. 

Chang Fu

Chang is an avid writer, among other things, at Possible. He grew up loving reading and writing, creating his own poems and even a book he's now hidden in an old closet, unpublished. His financial experience at a large bank along with his passion for technology to help underserved communities inspires him to write for Possible.

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