Educating about personal finance for teens is one of the most important and life changing gifts that parents can give to their children. Only four states (Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Utah) require high school students to complete a stand-alone personal finance class as a graduation requirement.
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The teen years are when most kids start caring about money- earning money, spending money, saving money. It is the perfect opportunity for us to jump in and teach important lessons about money before they have much of it. Now is the time to admit your own poor financial habits and be honest with your kids about financial mistakes you have made.
Why Do I Care About Personal Finance for Teens?
In 2006, when my children were only 4 and 5 years old, I dove head first into self employment and have never looked back. Read more about my story here. The personal, financial, and parenting freedom that owning my own business has afforded me is something that I would love to pass on to my children.
Whether they decide to work for themselves or someone else, understanding money management and personal finance is the true key to financial freedom.
I have witnessed families living on a modest income pay cash for extended vacations and I have seen families with six figure salaries bounce checks.
The lesson I hope to pass to my children is that managing the money you have is more important than making millions. Of course, it would be great to make millions AND manage it well, but we have to start somewhere.
My family lives in the state of Florida. A few years ago, Florida implemented an online high school, allowing Florida students to attend high school from their computers. The students do not have to attend a brick and mortar building and they earn their credits by enrolling in classes online. Both of my high school aged children have taken FLVS (Florida Virtual School) classes and my daughter decided last year to enroll full-time. While helping her select her schedule of classes for next year, I noticed that one of the offered electives is Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance course.
I immediately enrolled her for the summer session and enrolled my son, also. They complained a bit at first. I get it. Who wants to take classes in the summer? But, I explained that it isn’t an academic class-it is a life skills experience. They gave me the side eye, but they agreed to give it a chance. Once they Googled Dave Ramsey, their attitudes changed. “Hey, Ma, did you know that Dave Ramsey is considered a financial guru?” And a few minutes later…”Ma, did you know that Dave Ramsey is selling a course like this for a couple hundred dollars? But I get it for free!” They were off and running, molding their attitudes about personal finance for teens.
FREE Personal Finance for Teens Tools Are Available
When I mentioned to friends and family that my teens were taking a free Dave Ramsey class online over the summer, people got excited. A few of my Florida friends enrolled their teens, also. But many of my friends and family are outside of the State of Florida and do not have access to Florida Virtual School courses. I committed to doing some research and publishing a resource article about free personal finance for teens opportunities across the country. I spent several hours researching and I have learned a ton. There are hundreds of resources available. But, you have to look.
Just like in my case, no one told me about the Dave Ramsey class for my teens. I stumbled upon it. My research is to your benefit. I strongly believe that learning to balance a checkbook, save wisely, and get through college with no debt is critical for our teens. Did you know that the number of student loan borrowers with balances over $100,000 has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years? We are doing our children a huge injustice if we allow them to embark upon their adult lives in debt like that. I have created a list of personal finance for teens programs. All of them are free.
I will continue to add to the list, or you may add to the list in the comments. If I missed a personal finance for teens program that you feel should be included, email me at Julie@allaboutselfemployment.com and I will add it. This will continue to be a work in progress until we have every angle covered. Our teens deserve it.
BONUS: Read through the list to the bottom for an exciting college scholarship opportunity for your teen.
National/Online Resources for Teaching Financial Literacy to Your Teen
The Mint A bit more basic, The Mint is supported by Northwestern Mutual and offers a mini-tutorial that includes earning, saving, spending, debt, tracking, donating, and investing. There is info about balancing school and a job and understanding your paycheck. Again, very basic, but a great start.
Generation Wealthy A non-profit organization inspired by Samantha Ealy’s personal experience, Generation Wealthy is new on the scene. Offering a video series and blog posts directly geared to empower teens with financial literacy, the leadership aims to reach teens on their level with a relevant and necessary personal finance education.
Banzai! The online program is a financial education platform designed for teachers who are looking for a curriculum for financial literacy. However, there is a sign up for students. Banzai guides teens through real life situations where they will need money management skills. The program has a “choose your own adventure” format where teens can make different choices and experience the consequences of each choice.
Navigating the Years Money Skills Our friend, Ashley, over at Navigating the Years talks a great deal about raising financially savvy tweens and teens. She provides a number of free resources for parents who seek to encourage and inspire their children to be smart with money. Ashley recommends Smart Money, Smart Kids as a must-have parent resource.
Money Smart Sponsored by the FDIC, Money Smart is an instructor led series that consists of free grade-level curriculum available for immediate download. The online course teaches the basics of handling money and finances and how to develop positive relationships with financial institutions. Also includes are parent guides and teacher guides delivered in both Spanish and English.
Knowledge at Wharton High School A completely free resource, the Wharton High School Personal Finance curriculum includes eight lessons. Additional lessons and updates are being adding all the time. Just this month, a module on Managing Your Finances with Mobile Phones was added. The lessons are relevant and consistent with a typical high school course and the subjects are:
- Personal Decision Making
- Earning and Reporting Income
- Managing Finance and Budgeting
- Saving and Investing
- Buying Goods and Services
- Using Credit
- Protecting Against Risk
You must create a free account prior to diving into the course. While you are in there, check out the other subject areas. This program offers a number of interesting courses.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers PwC offers free, online financial literacy and sustainability lessons for grades 3-12. Modules are broken into segments and we will focus on the 9-12 lesson plan. Topics covered are financial responsibility, credit and debt, risk and insurance, saving and investing, income and careers, planning and money management, home buying, stock market, paying for college, taxes, and environmental sustainability. All modules are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. The course is intensive. Expect your teen to complete the program within a couple of months of working on it in free time. It includes handouts and assessments.
Springboard FIT Academy A free personal finance education, Credit.org offers a complete course on personal finance, including budgeting, credit, and identity theft prevention. The lessons include a pre and post test, videos, printables, and articles. This program is perfect for students who prefer various types of multi-media in their learning.
Investopedia: Teaching Financial Literacy to Teens An online tutorial, this is a great starting place for parents. Learn great ideas about how to teach budgeting, credit and debt, managing expenses, investing, and moving out.
Mint Budgeting Tool A free and fun introduction to budgets, Mint is a useful tool for teens. They can create a budget from the templates, add their savings goals and income and better understand their spending. Mint will sync bank accounts in a few seconds. Their blog is engaging and frequently updated.
State Specific Resources for Teaching Financial Literacy to Your Teen
California teens may register for an account to enroll in a Make Money Choices lesson. Designed to prepare teens for entering the workforce, the program allows teens to choose their lifestyle and then walks them through the income, budgeting, and savings they will need to sustain that lifestyle. It is a bit lightweight, but is a good introduction to personal finance.
Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance
If you are a Florida student, you are eligible to enroll in thousands of online classes for free. One of these classes is Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance: High School Edition. Nearly 2 million students have already completed this course, which addresses saving, budgeting, debt, life after high school, consumer awareness, bargain shopping, investing and retirement, insurance, money and relationships, and career and taxes. The course is true to Dave Ramsey’s cleverness and uses real life examples like how to drive a free car and finish college with zero debt. If you do not live in Florida, you can purchase this course for your teen for $99. But, I recommend buying the home school edition for your teen anyway, whether they take the course or not. It can be found on Amazon for less than $10 and is a useful ongoing tool. Click the image below.
Since 2004, Cents Ability, a non-profit organization, has taught free financial literacy workshops throughout New York City. Their program consists of eight 45-minute modules and includes a take home workbook. Their programs are now taught at dozens of high schools, after school programs, and community based organizations in all five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and New Jersey.
Since 2004, Cents Ability, a non-profit organization, has taught free financial literacy workshops throughout New York City. Their program consists of eight 45-minute modules and includes a take home workbook. Their programs are now taught at dozens of high schools, after school programs, and community based organizations in all five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and New Jersey. As I continue my research, I will list additional state specific resources as well as any national online ones that I feel are worth your teenager’s time. This is a work in progress with a mission to introduce every teen to personal finance.
Personal Finance for Teens Additional Resources
Even though both of my teens are taking the Dave Ramsey course, I supplemented their education with a few books. Here are the ones I purchased for them after researching:
Audio books are also available for most of these books, if your teen isn’t an avid reader.
As promised, here is the information for a micro-scholarship available to your teen for investing time and effort into a personal finance education: Visit Raise.me, sign up for free and begin adding your achievements. Include course grades, clubs, sports, volunteer work, etc. For each achievement, your teen will become eligible for additional scholarship money. When they complete a financial literacy course, they will become eligible for an additional $1,000.
The Short and Sweet
As I mentioned before, this resource is an on-going project and I will be adding new courses as I learn of them and as they become available. Please help me out by letting me know of any personal finance for teens tools that you come across and I will add them. And don’t forget to share this article with anyone with a teen, so that we can secure the financial future of our kids. They deserve it.