Celebrate National Financial Literacy Month

Boost achievement and engagement with real-world financial literacy lessons!

By Andrea Ferrero

Piggy bank with money coming out

National Financial Literacy for Youth Month grew from an initiative of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. Their aim in promoting the month-long celebration was to build recognition for the important role of financial literacy education in developing healthy financial habits. In 2004, the United States Senate officially acknowledged April as National Financial Literacy Month for all ages.

Financial literacy has become an ever-increasing topic of discussion, given the current economic state of the United States as well as the global community. Many countries have begun to implement full curriculums supporting the foundational development of financial understanding. Financial literacy topics cover a broad spectrum of financial concepts including such things as: money management and communication skills, financial decision making strategies, investment tools, entrepreneurial skills, and much more.

In the United States, the Common Core standards bring with them career and college readiness anchors; our first step towards universal goals related to financial literacy aims. Outside of these adopted, but not fully implemented common core standards, are greatly-varying state economic standards. To help educators in the process, The Jumpstart Coalition provides National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education, which while not yet mandated, set a strong foundation for personal finance learning goals. These vary greatly in content and adoption from state to state.

Benefits of Financial Literacy

Schools and youth programs implementing financial literacy have found a great range of benefits for all grade levels. They include:

  • Increased achievement
  • Boost in student engagement
  • Higher levels of developed self-efficacy
  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning across all subjects
  • Communication and problem solving skills
  • Heightened awareness and capability within life skills

Financial Literacy Activity Ideas

There are thousands of ways to approach financial literacy themes and topics. Over the years, I have found the following activities generate a lot of excitement and dialogue:

  • Designing piggy banks is a creative and enticing way to promote discussion about reasons to save money. Craft store ceramic or cardboard piggy banks work well, but this initial pig-shaped foundation could also be made out of paper mache or household materials. Next, using permanent markers, magazines, and other collected images, your class can decorate their piggy banks. The end result is a collage of dreams or aspirations for savings.
  • Building a classroom business allows creative problem solving, while applying content understandings of math, language arts, social studies, and much more. We began our class business by choosing an item or product they reasoned could be sold to classmates. Past products included decorative pencils, pickles, stickers, and key chains. Next, they created a budget to purchase their initial product and any materials they needed to advertise around the school. Designated classmates maintained the accounts and ran the store during appropriate break times (lunch, 15 minutes after-school etc.) This empowering activity gave each individual the chance to play an active role in reaching our field trip and classroom supply goals throughout the year.

Organizations Promoting Financial Literacy

Considering integrating financial literacy into the classroom can seem like a large undertaking, but the long-term value and abundance of support available make it a tremendously worthwhile investment. The following organizations provide a range of implementation support and resources.

More Financial Literacy Resources:

PC Financial Literacy Idea Powerpoint

Thoughtful engaging slides illustrate the benefits and components of financial literacy. Ideas for developing classroom activities and full units are described and supported with included resources. 

Stock Market Game 

Simulation gaming moves to a new level in this engaging online stock market experience. Accompanying lessons are included to extend and debrief game play. 

Econ Ed Live! 

Branching into the world of apps, the Council for Economic Education provides a free tool for youth to develop consumer awareness. The straightforward application focuses on consumer awareness skills including inflation and use of credit.