8 Financial Literacy Benchmarks for Kids of All Ages

No matter what age your child is, it’s never too early to start teaching them the importance of financial literacy.

From learning the basics of saving to practicing how to manage a budget, financial literacy gives kids the tools they need to thrive.

If you’ve ever missed a rent payment, had to cut coupons to buy groceries, or struggled to keep the lights on, you definitely understand what we mean.

By laying out a plan ahead of time, you can start taking steps to support your children on their journey to financial independence.

If you’re looking for a head start, we’ve prepared a quick guide to help you along the way.

In today’s article, we’ll show you how to help kids of all ages meet the financial literacy benchmarks they’ll need and teach them how to manage their money wisely.


Preschoolers are still starting to blossom, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn the basics of money management.

Whether they have a good idea of ​​what money really is or are still trying to figure it out, the following techniques can prepare preschoolers for financial literacy.

A penny saved is a penny earned

Teach your preschooler savings basics by evoking the adage, “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

Give them a traditional piggy bank and explain how they will start using it to store change and save money. You can also opt for an online version and teach children to practice using a virtual piggy bank. Check out Bankaroo, for example.

Since children at this age may be too young to understand the concept of doing chores for an allowance, start by giving them any loose change you have. For example, give them the change you get when you come home from the store. Or return the money you find in your purse.

Learn and practice counting money

Before adding money to the piggy bank, have your preschooler count each coin and note. If they haven’t learned what each coin and note is, first practice identifying them, then counting them.

When a child is having trouble understanding counting or just needs more practice, dedicate a few minutes each week to online counting games.

picture: splash
Take the piggy bank one step further by having your kids count their way to their savings goal, then choose a dedicated item to buy and celebrate.

You can also ask them to count coins for cashiers at the grocery store if there isn’t a busy line behind you.

Practice saying something like, “Hey Matthew, here’s four cents. Can you count them for the cashier, please? One two Three, …”

Summary: Benchmarks in Financial Literacy for Preschoolers

By preschool, children should begin to:

  • Understand the basics of savings
  • Learn to count/practice counting money

college students

Elementary students have a better understanding of the world around them. At this age, they generally know how to count and save money, and what money is used for.

Give elementary school kids a head start with the following three tips.

Learn to bank

An important benchmark for starting your kids on the path to financial success is getting them to understand the basics of banking.

Start with simple things like depositing into a checking account instead of a savings account or learning how to use a debit card.

Take the idea further by opening their own children’s checking account, savings account and get them a child-friendly debit card.

Also, pay close attention to the do’s and don’ts of debit cards. For example, teach your child the importance of tracking debit card spending in a ledger or ledger – and how to check their work using online banking.

Learn the basics of investing

Elementary kids will need time to understand the basics of investing, so start by teaching your kids how money works.

Use visuals and stories to paint a picture.

For example, “Money grows like a garden. When you water the seeds and give them enough sun, the flowers grow, right? When you invest your money carefully, new funds can also grow.

When you’re ready to invest for your children, consider using an investment donation app, like EarlyBird.

EarlyBird has improved the act of give money to children in a powerful way. Not only can you invest for your child on their behalf, but so can your family and friends.

Financial donation app for kids

picture: getearlybird
When a loved one makes a new deposit or investment on your child’s behalf, open the app and show it to your child. When investments make and/or lose money, show your child the totals and briefly explain what happened.

Doing this over time can help your child begin to understand the basics of investing.

Earn an allowance

Primary school children are old enough to understand the concept of earning an allowance. Allowances are also an effective way to teach children how to earn, save and spend their own money.

Start with a weekly chore, like taking out the trash or deep cleaning your room. If they’re open and they have time, see if you can squeeze in an extra weekly chore or two.

Summary: Benchmarks in Financial Literacy for Elementary Students

Elementary students should begin to:

  • Understand the basics of banking and investing
  • Know how to use banking products to spend, deposit and save money
  • Understand the basics of earning, saving and spending your own money


By adolescence, children should understand the basics, including earning, spending, and saving their own money. They may even have started working and earning paychecks or direct deposits. Many teenagers frequently use a debit card.

Equip teens even more with the following three tips.

Independent bank

Give your teen more financial responsibility by upgrading their child-friendly accounts to student bank accounts.

If they’re old enough and qualify, also consider opening a student credit card so they can start building credit. Before applying for the card, teach your teen how to handle credit responsibly.

Financial career planning

When teens are ready to consider different careers, it is important to guide them towards a return on investment for their education.

To get them on the right track, help them research salary guides and industry standard rates based on their dream jobs.

For example, if your teen wants to become a nurse, guides like this CRNA Salary Guide can help them better understand how much money they can earn from their chosen career path.

Budgeting and savings plans/goals

Teach your teen how important budgeting and saving are to achieving financial goals.

Screenshot of the budgeting app, Mint

picture: intuitive
Explain the importance of paying bills on time and allocating funds appropriately for bills, curves, emergencies, and savings goals. Teach them how to budget the old-fashioned way, or suggest a budgeting app, like Mint.

Summary: Benchmarks of Financial Literacy for Teens

Teens should start to:

  • Practice an independent bank
  • Search career guides and industry standard rates
  • Practice budgeting and saving


As a parent, one of the most reassuring things in the world is knowing that your children will be able to cope on their own.

Parents can equip their children with the financial tools they need to thrive by taking proactive steps to teach children how to manage their money.

Do you plan to use any of these tips with your children? Leave us a comment below and let us know how it goes.

Want more money management tips? Go to our Finance section to find out more.

Image: Depositphotos

Sarah J. Greer