A happy child adding money to a piggy bank

How do most kids learn to excel at the important things in life? Education and practice are the main ingredients. Yet most kids don’t learn enough of what it takes to manage their money from childhood and beyond.

In fact, in December 2019, the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) asked nearly 7,000 teens and young adults (aged 15-18) across all 50 states to respond to a test measuring their current personal finance knowledge. This 30-question quiz assess respondents’ capability to earn, save, and grow wealth. According to the results, the average level of money management knowledge among the sample was 64.9%.

Luckily, awareness of this issue is on the rise, and high school students in 21 states – Wisconsin included – must now take a personal financial course to graduate.

When young people understand how to manage money, they are equipped with a skill that is key to making their dreams a reality.

April is Financial Literacy Month

During this month, there is a nationwide collaborative effort of organizations across the country who conduct a variety of events and carry out initiatives designed to improve financial literacy, especially among our nation’s youth, and to promote financial well-being for all consumers.

Why is financial literacy important?

Financial literacy is key to understanding how to save, earn, borrow, invest, and protect your money wisely. It is also essential to developing short- and long-term financial habits and skills that lead to greater financial well-being.

Now more than ever

At least 72% of students say personal finance stresses them out and the current world health crisis caused by COVID-19 could put an added financial burden on many young people.  Now more than ever, students need education and resources to help them understand how to make it through these difficult financial times.

DoSomething.org is doing just that. Something. The largest organization for young people and social change launched “Would You Rather?”, a nationwide financial literacy campaign that teaches young people how to make and save money, while social distancing during COVID-19,

Through “Would You Rather?”, young people are invited to answer five amusing financial questions. Questions like: To save money, would you rather…a) Share a cellphone with your grandma? or  b) Share a closet with your ex? (A. Definitely A for us)

Upon completing each question, test-takers receive a personal finance tip along with comprehensive digital personal finance guides. You can take that quiz here.

Let the (financial literacy) games begin.

While not new, gamification has become increasingly popular and legitimate way to teach students of all ages useful skills and concepts. For something like money education that can be dry and dull if taught in another format, it can be a lifesaver.

There’s a big difference between which financial literacy lessons are valuable to a 5-year old than a 15-year old. To make the best financial literacy games for your kids easy to pinpoint, below are suggestions, divided by age group.

Grades K-5

Before you can focus on more complicated concepts like saving and investments, kids have to learn the basic concepts of what money is and what different bills and coins are worth. Here are five more game suggestions for your little money mavens:

  1. Learning Coins – Learning Coins from ABCYa provides kids with an introduction to what each of the different coins is, how to recognize them, and what they’re worth.
  2. Money Bingo – Also from ABCYa, Money Bingo lets kids put their coin knowledge to use, along with some math skills, to fill a virtual bingo card.
  3. Dolphin Feed – Once you’ve mastered those first two games, ABCYa has one more financial literacy game for students at a slightly higher level. Dolphin Feed lets you compete against other kids to see who can make the right change the fastest.
  4. Escape from Barter Island – Escape from Barter Island helps kids learn just why we use money, to begin with. It teaches what bartering is and shows why it’s less practical than currency. This one does require some reading, so you might need to help the younger kids out with it.
  5. Dollar Dive – From the U.S. Mint, Dollar Dive is a cross between Dolphin Feed and Space Invaders – your character has to “catch” coins as they fly above to make enough money to move forward.
Grades 5-8
  1. Financial Football – From Visa’s Practical Money Initiative, Financial Football mixes financial literacy in with American’s favorite sport (for kids that prefer soccer, they have an alternative version).
  2. Hot Shot Business – Hot Shot Business takes kids to Opportunity City and gives them a chance to run a popular local business – with all the challenges and successes that come with it.
  3. Thrive and Shine – Thrive and Shine is an app from Mind Blown Labs that lets players choose a character and profession and then make and spend money throughout the game based on the challenges that arise. It brings concepts like emergency funds, investments, and taxes into the game.
  4. Gen i Revolution – Developed for middle school and high school students, this online game gives kids the chance to learn important personal finance skills as they play and compete against classmates. The game includes sixteen Missions in which students attempt to help people in financial trouble.
High school and beyond
  1. Get a Life – Get a Life lets students pick a career and then create a budget and make other spending decisions based on the monthly salary that comes with it.
  2. Awesome Island – Players start with the kind of job options available to most high school students and a set income, and are given the option to invest in an education to move into a new realm of job options. On their journey through different levels of education and career, they learn about the spending choices that all adults face, like taxes, philanthropy, and investments.
  3. The Stock Market Game – Learn to play the stock market without the risk. Students can get a feel for how investing works, the risks involved, and which investments are the best choice.
  4. Gen i Revolution – From the Council for Economic Education, Gen i Revolution gives players a series of missions, each designed to help someone with a financial challenge, teaching players important financial skills as they go.
  5. Invest Quest – Modeled after a board game, Invest Quest helps older students test their financial knowledge to better understand how to make good investments.

We can’t forget the grown-ups

Let’s be real. Financial literacy learning isn’t just for kids. We ‘kids at heart’ could always use a refresher on topics like managing debt, using credit cards, and protecting your identity. We’ve rounded up a few great places to start your extra-curricular learning.

  1. Invest in You: Money 101 – CNBC offers this 8-week learning course to financial freedom for free and that’s not even the best part. It’s delivered directly to your inbox weekly. Talk about barely having to lift a finger.
  2. Money Basics – Smart About Money’s Money Basics courses help you to form a healthy financial foundation for the rest of your personal finance journey. Each course takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and includes valuable tools and resources including worksheets, calculators and quizzes.

Financial literacy in your local community

Financial institutions are huge supporters of financial literacy in their communities. Community banks are uniquely positioned to step in and provide resources to the most vulnerable (underbanked, underserved, and disenfranchised) among us. Keep an eye out for FVSBank Financial Education  programs in local schools aimed at improving student savvy when it comes to money matters.