Tips for How to Do It

According to the 2022 Global Financial Literacy report, 57{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of adults in the U.S. are financially literate. That said, it’s never too late to start your financial education journey. Where you start will depend on your financial and personal background, time horizon, and risk tolerance. 

From using relatable examples to listening to podcasts, here is how to teach personal finance to others, whether students, family, or friends.

Key Takeaways

  • The earlier individuals can learn about personal finance the more likely they are to develop positive financial behaviors in the future. 
  • For teens, basic concepts in financial literacy such as budgeting can help them build a healthy skepticism and be less likely to fall for scams and unreliable information.
  • When teaching finance to younger individuals, acknowledging their challenges and goals can be helpful in delivering relatable personal finance lessons as they apply  to budgeting, debt management, savings, and more. 
  • Teaching personal finance can go beyond text book lesson plans and incorporate books, games and podcasts.

Strategies to Improve Your Financial Literacy Skills

Why Should We Teach Personal Finance to Students?

The earlier you can teach students about personal finance, the better. Children are exposed to money long before they have any of their own. According to a study conducted by Money Advice Service, a UK-based, government-backed organization, some financial behaviors are developed by the age of seven. By their teenage years, individuals have already made and witnessed several financial decisions. Many of those financial decisions are influenced by what they see at home, rather than in the classroom.

In the U.S., the minimum legal age for one to be employed is 14 years old. Before an individual can make an earning, it’s best they have some background knowledge on financial decision making. Teaching teenagers about personal finance can help set them up for financial security and help lessen the anxiety commonly associated with finances. 

This article will provide tips and guidance for properly teaching personal finance lessons.

Learn Your Students’ Goals

Financial planning may be new territory for some, but there are relatable concepts teenagers and young adults are likely to have heard of. For example, needs and wants and how they apply to goal setting is a good place to start. 

Identifying their goals can be used as an aid in teaching students to budget for the various stages of life from teenage years to retirement age. Saving for a prom dress, buying a car, and going to the movies with friends are all common goals teenagers may have that can be helpful in connecting with students and identifying which financial concepts will resonate with them. By using an example they can relate to, you can break down basic budgeting techniques that may help them reach these goals. As a result,  teenagers can learn about long-term saving, understanding bank statements, and building money habits.

Refine Their Research Skills

Teens are consistently being marketed to and it may not always be easy to avoid information that is not 100{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} accurate. 

When it comes to finance, understanding where the information one learns comes from is extremely important. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022. Educators can help students develop their critical thinking skills as they learn to identify credible financial resources. When working on research projects and introducing financial concepts, remember to showcase .gov or .edu resources and how these are different from blogs, financial influencers, or secondary sources.

When you know whom you want to help with learning about money, the next step is finding out where they are. For example, if you’re interested in helping Gen Zers or millennials, there’s a good chance you’ll find them on social media platforms looking for advice. TikTok, for example, can be a great place to share short videos featuring financial tips or money hacks.

Your target audience might also be interested in reading blog posts that cover financial topics on a deeper level, so it could be worth your time to set up a personal finance blog or website to connect with your audience.

Use Relatable Examples

When teaching financial concepts to teenagers or young adults, it’s important to make the content relatable. Personal finance lessons rooted solely in mortgage principles, for example, might be hard for teens to grasp since they are far from purchasing a home. 

Discussing paychecks that one receives from a first job, on the other hand, can be helpful in helping them understand how taxes work. 


As a teacher, you may have students practice filling out a W4 and 1040 form in lessons about income and withholdings. Doing this in spring and encouraging conversations about tax time and time management may be beneficial, too.

Design Lesson Plans

Financial literacy lessons cover a wide range of topics and it can be difficult deciding how and when to introduce them to teens. Several resources provide sample lesson plans that can be easily modified for age, grade level, and potential disability considerations. 

Below, find a list of organizations that have teen-focused lesson content that may be a useful resource.  

  • Practical Money Skills: Topics covered in these downloadable lesson plans cover banking, budgeting, and understanding the role of money in one’s life. The site also offers resources for games that can be integrated into the lessons such as “financial football” and apps to help calculate the cost of lunch and prom. 
  • Fool Proof Me: This independent organization helps students develop critical thinking skills used to recognize scams and understand the policies that affect financial well-being. The organization features downloadable curriculum for those teaching middle school, high school, and homeschool students. 
  • We are Teachers: We Are Teachers covers many topics, but the most notable is that it lists sample lesson plans defining Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency for older teens. There are also lesson plans explaining charitable donations, organization mission statements, and decision making for middle school and high school students.


Investopedia’s Financial Literacy Resource Center contains downloadable lesson plans for elementary school educators. Within the resource center, you’ll find content focused on needs and wants, goal setting, and more.

Use Books and Podcasts

Integrating age appropriate books and podcasts can be helpful in delivering important personal finance lessons. Below, find options that you may consider bringing into the classroom. 

  • Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together: This book written by Erin Lowery is Ideal for those new to personal finance. It heavily discusses debt and credit, and dives deep into understanding your personal relationship with money.
  • Get Good with Money: Tiffany Aliche breaks down the basics of budgeting and building financial habits using an easy-to-follow 10 step plan. 
  • Financial Literacy Boot Camp for Teens and Young Adults: In just 50 pages, entrepreneur Michael D. Thomas provides basic understanding of financial concepts making it easily digestible for young minds.
  • Teen Money Matters: In less than 30 minutes, teens will have common personal financial myths or confusions demystified as the podcast hosts discuss things such as insurance, investing, and more.
  • Popcorn Finance: Though not geared for teens, the goal of the popcorn finance podcast is to deliver personal finance lessons in the amount of time it takes to enjoy a bag of popcorn. Without ever getting too overwhelming, the podcast explains the basics of common financial questions such as how to save for college, the impact of medical debt, and how personal branding affects careers.

What are the 5 basic principles of personal finance?

Personal finance is a broad topic. The five basic principles include savings, spendings, income, investing, and protection. However, personal finance is a broad topic and can be inclusive of several other money related specifics.

How do I teach basic money skills?

Teaching basic money skills involves understanding one’s current level of financial knowledge and increasing that knowledge by developing a framework that works for them. Integrating games and real life experiences can make lessons more engaging. Progress for developing money skills and personal finance for high school students specifically can be measured via free assessments and downloadable checklists for milestone tracking.

What is the 50/30/20 rule?

The 50/30/20 budgeting rule is meant to help with the division of income when devising a budget. The rule dictates that 50{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of your income should be spent on necessities such as rent and groceries, and 30{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of income is spent on non-necessities like going out to dinner with friends. The remaining 20{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} is left for debt management and savings.

The Bottom Line

Developing personal finance knowledge isn’t restricted by age and can be easily tailored to relate to teenagers. The lessons teens absorb in financial literacy coursework can greatly assist them with money management now through adulthood. It can also help them build greater confidence and make wiser financial decisions.