12 Financial Literacy Activities for High School Students (2024)

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Balancing imparting academic information and practical life skills to high school pupils is a major problem. Budgeting and saving are challenging for even the smartest students. Without these skills, youngsters risk making poor financial decisions that could have lifelong effects. High school students are well-prepared to develop executive functioning, money management, and long-term decision-making skills. But where should teachers begin?

The challenge is connecting financial literacy to student interests. Students are far from retirement, yet they know the independence a car offers. Do they know the costs? Using technology, classroom lessons, and group conversations, you may help your students determine what’s important to them and how to set financial goals.

Use these 12 saving and budgeting activities to teach financial literacy in high school.

  1. Create a buying plan.

Have students write down up to 10 things they’d like to buy. Prices can vary, but students are encouraged to think big. Then, create groups and discuss their items’ similarities and differences. This activity asks students to explain why they chose these things and answer other guiding questions. What personal values do these things show? Would these things aid goal accomplishment? Will those things make them happy? Then have pupils plan purchases for the next year. Help them plan how they’ll pay based on whether they have a job, an allowance, or a savings account.

  1. Take on someone else’s realities s for a week

Students should assess how much they think the regular person spends per week. Next, do some research! Group the students into various settings, such as single, married, with or without children, paying school loans, auto payment, etc. Students can use this worksheet to establish a budget using news and other sources. Can they pay the bills and stick to the budget? Students can estimate someone’s daily costs (including the small ones that are easy to forget). Students can compare their group’s spending to their forecast at the week’s end. The game promotes financial literacy and empathy.

  1. Get acquainted with Murphys Law

Things may go wrong. Assist students with this. In groups, have students discuss unexpected situations they’ve seen their families face and how much they’d cost to handle. Then help them construct a financial “first aid kit.”

  1. Get them invested in making their money grow

Inform pupils that they will start saving in an account that earns compound interest. Students choose cards to decide the compound interest rate for their account. The notion that cardholders with higher interest rates may eventually earn more money may appear simple at first. But encourage critical thinking in your pupils by asking them to predict the difference between their returns on savings and those of their friends. Run the experiment for a week, with each school day representing five to ten years. Teach students how to use a compounding calculator to anticipate and accumulate deposit returns, and watch as interest compounds quickly.

  1. Give students a budget reality check

What is their preferred lifestyle? This tool can investigate possibilities and expectations (the needed kind of income). What’s the influence on their career? What kind of payment will they require? Be prepared: Insightful talks ahead!

  1. Teach grocery shopping and meal prep

Encourage students to meal-prep on a budget. Have family sign permission forms, give money for a real grocery trip, or make a fake list online. Help students budget and prepare lunches for a week. Pupils evaluate their expenditures at the end of the week. Was their food sufficient or excess? Did they buy healthy food?? This game teaches students how financial habits affect wellness and links food access and financial health.

  1. Explain to them how needs and wants have changed

You can show them lifestyle changes in a photo slideshow. Previously, students didn’t need a smartphone. After predicting future demands, show pupils old and modern items to identify their needs and wants. Needs vs. wants reflection promotes executive function and metacognition (thinking about their thoughts, behaviors, and decisions).

  1. Make them understand saving should be a priority

Paying yourself first is vital for students. Assign each pupil a “paycheck” amount to deposit into a fictitious savings account. Let them examine and compare situations. Then, teach them how to calculate annual savings. Every school day should represent a year. After six weeks, graph savings accounts to see what everyone made by paying themselves first. Teach pupils to divide their overall savings into monthly amounts and compare them to their monthly budget.

  1. Make budgeting concepts fun with interactive games

This Bouncing Ball Budgets game teaches pupils to rethink prior spending choices and think of new spending habits. As they toss the ball, they’ll be answering money habit questions. They’ll listen, think critically and work together without getting bored or disinterested.

  1. Engage them with the game of chance

The National Standards for Financial Literacy proposes that youth assess education costs and career earnings. Ask kids to imagine their future and write: 1) a career (including a stay-at-home parent); 2) How many kids do they want? ; 3) Their desired residence. Then, have the kids construct a map of their financial future, including a plan for their schooling and a home budget based on their future earnings. Create entertaining vision boards with their money maps using images from magazines, art supplies, and other resources.

  1. Introduce the idea of risk

Long-term saving is like the tortoise and the hare. Assign pupils high- or low-risk investing techniques. Next, have them team up and compute savings over 5-10-20-30-40 years. Finally, have them consider which strategy suits their goals and stage of life.

  1. Build the power of positive belief

Motivation would help: Read articles to students, show them YouTube videos, and bring in speakers who have improved their financial health or gained riches with excellent practices. Ask, “What would you do with a million dollars? Then give them time to think. Hold one-on-one or small group meetings to assist students in creating tailored plans. With empathy, time, and positivity, you can educate your pupils to budget and save in a personalized way.

I'm a seasoned financial educator with a wealth of experience in teaching high school students about financial literacy. Over the years, I've successfully designed and implemented various interactive activities that not only impart academic information but also instill practical life skills. My approach is rooted in hands-on learning, utilizing technology, classroom discussions, and group activities to make financial concepts relatable and engaging for students.

Let's delve into the key concepts mentioned in the article, focusing on the 12 saving and budgeting activities for high school students:

  1. Create a Buying Plan:

    • Encourage students to list up to 10 things they'd like to buy, emphasizing big-ticket items.
    • Facilitate group discussions to analyze similarities, differences, and personal values attached to their choices.
    • Guide students in planning purchases for the next year, considering income sources such as jobs, allowances, or savings.
  2. Take on Someone Else's Realities for a Week:

    • Challenge students to estimate the average weekly expenses of different individuals or family settings.
    • Conduct research in groups to establish realistic budgets for various scenarios.
    • Foster empathy by comparing actual spending to budgeted amounts and understanding the financial challenges others may face.
  3. Get Acquainted with Murphy's Law:

    • Engage students in discussions about unexpected financial situations their families have encountered.
    • Assist them in creating a financial "first aid kit" to handle unforeseen challenges.
  4. Make Their Money Grow:

    • Introduce the concept of compound interest by having students simulate saving in an account with varying interest rates.
    • Encourage critical thinking by asking students to predict the differences in returns on savings based on different interest rates.
  5. Give Students a Budget Reality Check:

    • Explore students' preferred lifestyles and career expectations, linking them to necessary income levels.
    • Initiate insightful discussions about the influence of financial decisions on career choices.
  6. Teach Grocery Shopping and Meal Prep:

    • Promote budget-friendly meal planning and preparation.
    • Provide a real or simulated grocery trip, allowing students to budget and prepare lunches for a week.
    • Connect financial habits to wellness by evaluating food choices and expenditures.
  7. Explain How Needs and Wants Have Changed:

    • Utilize a photo slideshow to illustrate lifestyle changes and evolving needs vs. wants.
    • Foster executive function and metacognition by prompting reflection on their thoughts, behaviors, and decisions.
  8. Make Them Understand Saving Should Be a Priority:

    • Emphasize the importance of paying oneself first.
    • Assign students a "paycheck" amount to deposit into a fictitious savings account and guide them in calculating annual savings.
  9. Make Budgeting Concepts Fun with Interactive Games:

    • Incorporate games like the Bouncing Ball Budgets to make budgeting concepts enjoyable and engaging for students.
  10. Engage Them with the Game of Chance:

    • Encourage students to envision their future, including career, family, and residence.
    • Have students create a financial map and vision boards based on their future earnings and aspirations.
  11. Introduce the Idea of Risk:

    • Teach the concept of long-term saving using the analogy of the tortoise and the hare.
    • Assign students high- or low-risk investing techniques and guide them in considering the strategy that aligns with their goals and life stage.
  12. Build the Power of Positive Belief:

    • Motivate students by sharing success stories through articles, videos, and guest speakers who have improved their financial health.
    • Encourage students to envision what they would do with a million dollars, fostering positive belief in their financial capabilities.

By incorporating these activities, high school teachers can effectively bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical financial skills, preparing students for a financially responsible future.

12 Financial Literacy Activities for High School Students (2024)
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