Only 21 states require personal finance classes in high school1, which means the burden of teaching kids about money rests on their parents’ shoulders. Still, only 28% of parents2 actually talk to their kids about finances. Without the concepts and habits that lead to a financially healthy life, many are left vulnerable to living beyond their means as adults or making decisions with long-term financial consequences.
You do not have to be a money expert to teach your kids good financial habits. Many online activities and games are available for free to help your children get a good financial education. We have gathered a few of these lessons and games here and sorted them by the appropriate grade level. Use this list to help you or a loved one get started on teaching financial basics to kids.
Grades K – 2
Peter Pig makes it fun for kids to learn about money. He stars in this interactive game that gets kids to identify, count and save money. Players end the game with a rewarding trip to a virtual store where they can spend their simulated money to dress up Peter Pig in fun scenes.
This economics lesson is based around a popular children’s book that teaches kids about entrepreneurship. It helps students identify the risks and rewards of starting a business and distinguish between those that produce goods and those that provide services.
Grades 3 – 5
This exciting comic featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy will teach kids about wants, needs and the importance of saving money. The fast-paced story makes personal finance fun by framing its lessons around defeating the evil Collector and his Robo-Pests. It includes an activity worksheet, financial glossary, mini-games and more.
Uncle Jed is a Black barber who saves enough money to own his own storefront in this book about saving, costs and the impact of race on entrepreneurship. Upon finishing the story, kids play a card game that models what it takes to reach a goal in savings.
Grades 6 – 8
As kids get older and have freer access to electronics, apps like Plan’it Prom can keep them engaged while learning good financial habits. In this free Android and iOS game, kids make a realistic and itemized budget for prom that tracks their spending as they shop virtually.
The economics lessons get more in-depth as students get older, and this one will teach them about inflation and how the value of money changes over time. It explains interest rates and rising prices in an engaging PowerPoint presentation that includes activities and links to videos.
Grades 9 – 12
This popular interactive game is a fast-paced way to challenge children to answer financial questions that earn them yards and eventually score them touchdowns. The game is free online and as an iOS app.
For students who are good readers, this site has plenty of longer financial literacy eBooks covering a wide range of topics, from basics like credit management to how to protect yourself from identity theft.
Talk to Your Kids About Their Money Choices
You can also talk to your kids about whatever money topics come up naturally in your lives, whether it is buying a car, getting a pet or something as simple as seeing a credit card commercial. It is never too early — or too late — to start talking.
At the end of the day, any conversation you have with your children about money will be better than none. If you are feeling ill-equipped to teach them, the resources above will help you start the conversation.
2020. Council for Economic Education. Survey of the States.
2019. Edelman Intelligence on behalf of BECU. BECU Finance and Parents Survey.