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Financial Literacy & Middle Schoolers

Middle School Blog Infographic







What is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is the all-inclusive concept of budgeting, management of credit, understanding of saving, spending and earning. Essentially, financial literacy is everything that involves your financial health.

Yet, one can’t consider being literate in finance by being able to balance a checkbook or being hired. The fundamentals of financial literacy look at present needs, as well as building skills to achieve long-term financial goals. Which, in order to be proficient, money management skills need to be used every day.

So, why might your middle-schooler need to learn money skills now? Just like learning to ride a bike or understanding the fundamentals of geometry, practice makes perfect.

“We were not taught financial literacy in school,” said Businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki. “It takes a lot of work and time to change your thinking and to become financially literate.”

The earlier children are taught financial concepts, the higher the chances of them being able to achieve  financial milestones, such as purchasing a car, saving for college, and buying a home.

While right now, your child probably isn’t thinking ahead to graduating high school and preparing for college or for their first car; there is an opportunity for educators and parents to assist youth in financial mindsets NOW so that they can be better prepare for what lies ahead.

Financial Literacy Concepts for 11 – 14-Year-Olds

USA Today reported, “kids ages 4 to 14 received an average $454 in allowance over the course of 2017…” This figure doesn’t include cash gifts for birthdays or holidays. In a span of six years, a 6th grader could accumulate at least $2,724 by the time he or she was graduating high school.

Middle schoolers can become more confident in their money management skills by setting up a bank account and making a budget outlining their financial goals for the next 5 years and longer. Some goals they should consider include the cost of their first car, gas money, entertainment, like going to the movies or eating out, and college tuition. Not only will this allow for youth to feel more in control of their future, but it also provides a learning opportunity for children, their parents, and teachers.

Money Tools for…

Parents & Kids at Home

  • Make it a board-game night! Break out your family Monopoly board to help your child get hands-on with saving, spending and investing concepts, or play the Game of Life to let them test drive a career and make their own financial decisions!
  • Consider having your child manage their money using a prepaid debit card or phone app.  These tools allow parents to track spending and help their child understand their expenses. Most apps provide money insights through their expense manager, budget tracker, and more!

Teachers & Students in the Classroom

  • Junior Achievement (JA) provides various programs to assist in the learning and development of financial literacy skills. The best part? We provide our accomplished volunteers with the training they need to make the biggest impact on students.
    • Programs like JA Finance Park are a great way to have your student learn personal finance, budgeting money management, including saving and spending, along with an understanding of financial institutions while on the go!
    •  JA Global Marketplace gives students insights into the key aspects of the global economy, world trade, and how trade impacts their daily lives.
    • Have your student(s) explore entrepreneurship, higher education and career options in JA It’s My Business!


Financial Literacy in Elementary School

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy can be understood as the skillset or knowledge to manage monetary resources efficiently in order to accommodate one’s needs today and in the future. Some of the basic fundamentals that make up a financially literate individual include: the ability to budget, how to go about saving, the impact of credit and debt, investing towards one’s future, and the utilization of insurance in order to mitigate future road bumps that may detour an individual’s finances.

Why is Financial Literacy important for my Elementary Schooler?

As these concepts can be complex and traditionally focused towards adults, how might financial literacy be important to an 8 to 12-year-old? By starting conversations about various components of financial literacy early, children can be influenced to exhibit positive financial behaviors earlier in life and therefore be more prepared for what lies ahead in their future. In fact, research has shown that by age 12, children are able to use skills to resist impulsive spending strategies and understand critical concepts such as interest.

Financial Literacy Concepts for Elementary School-Aged Kids

During this stage in a child’s life, they are understanding that money is what provides a roof over their head, food on the table, and most importantly to them—their toys. 

Teaching Financial Literacy to Kids in Elementary School

When it comes to establishing oneself financially, is it ever too early to start?

Junior Achievement doesn’t believe so. In order to help your elementary school student to be prepared for his or her future steps in their life, we have put together some helpful learning resources for your kids to learn at home and at school!

Based on state curriculum standards, Junior Achievement has combined required concepts with proven educational hands-on learning that enables kids to achieve a deeper understanding. Here are our recommendations for parents and teachers to spark learning in elementary aged kids.

Money Tools for….

Parents and Kids at Home

  • Have a child that learns better through technology? Be sure to incorporate some online interactive games that involve math. Check out  PBS Kids for fun interactive learning that your child will actually WANT to play!
  • Turn their iPad time into learning time with Risk and Insurance which was created to educate elementary students in an interactive setting!
  • Family night? Learning can be a joint effort! Break out your family Monopoly board to help your child get hands-on with saving, spending and investing concepts or Game of Life  to let them test drive a career and make their own financial decisions!
  • Need to deposit a check? Bring your child with you! It’s a great real-life experience that will help them to understand the process of banking.

 Teachers and Students in the Classroom

  • Want to encourage your third-graders economic concepts that will change how they see their own city? Check out Junior Achievement’s volunteer lead  program --  JA Our City!  
  • Take learning from the classroom into a simulated town with JA BizTown! Students will be introduced to services provided by financial institutions and discover the connection between spending and having money in a bank prior to running their own (biz)town!

elementary school money graphic

4 Books High Schoolers Need for Success

Books for Adulting When is a good time to move out and become fully financially independent? A 2018 Teens & Personal Finance Survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA and AIG found that just half of the 1,000 surveyed teens desired to gain financial independence from their parents. Yet a study found that almost three-in-four parents with children over the age of 18 reported financially helping their child with their living expenses and/or debts.

So, how can parents avoid this financial "failure to launch"? Turns out the best way to prepare your child for the future is by educating them. Concepts like saving, spending, investing and career readiness aren’t being taught enough in schools for you (or your child) to feel confident enough for their financial future.

To help you prevent your child from becoming a long-term roommate, we have put together a list of the four books your high schooler needs to help shape their future for success. 

Teens & Career Indecisiveness


"This is the prettiest, most well-organized, useful and up to date guide to careers that I have ever seen." — Dick Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?

Every teen needs a starting point for career discovery. In this interactive guide, students learn about various career fields, as well as salary, working hours, training and preparing a resume to land the job of their dreams.

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type

"This is one of the most popular career books in the world. It's easy to see why. Many have found great help from the concept of Personality Type, and Tieger and Barron are masters at explaining this approach to career choice. Highly recommended." —Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?

This bestselling guide to finding career success and satisfaction assists with one of the most crucial elements of finding a satisfying career -- personality. Students will follow a step-by-step guide identifying their personality type, careers that align with their type, as well as the strengths and struggles their personality type faces in the workplace.

Teens & Adulting

No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Letters to My Grandchildren

"Spooner is a phenomenon, as much a psychologist and futurist as an investment advisor." — Inc. Magazine

From searching for a first job, planning for your financial future and other crucial life skills, readers are passed down the secrets to conquer life's adventures. Author and American leading financial advisor John Spooner passes down life lessons every parent wants their child to know.

Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life

“In Adulting 101, Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty share practical, accessible, and authentic wisdom to help students navigate the transition from college to their lives as independent adults. This is a resource young adults can return to over and over again for advice.” -Jonathan R. Alger, President, James Madison University

By definition, Adulting means to do grown-up things and have responsibilities, such as holding a full-time job, paying rent, buying groceries or owning a car. While these elementary life-skills are obvious to the modern-day parent, it may come as a shock that these skills are not being taught in the classroom. This practical guide puts those who are not "adults" into the driver’s seat as authors Burnette and Hardesty address topics like employment, workplace success, professional communication, investing, along with other "adulting" topics.

Grow Learning: Books for Middle Schoolers

Girl with book that is sparking ideas for her futureAccording to a poll of middle and high school students, conducted by the National Education Association, 56% of students said they read more than 10 books a year. Survey results stated that middle schoolers read the most, with an average of 70% reading more than 10 books a year, compared to 49% of high school students. At Junior Achievement we love literacy, financial literacy in particular. Here are our top books on Entrepreneurship, work/career readiness and, as mentioned, financial literacy.



Entrepreneurship | Work / Career Readiness

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur (5 / 5)

“Meet Billy Sure, twelve-year-old inventor and CEO of Sure Things, Inc., and discover all of his wild and wacky inventions in this start to a hilarious middle grade series!

Everyone is talking about Billy Sure, the twelve-year-old CEO of Sure Things, Inc. and genius inventor of the All Ball, a ball that turns into different sports balls with the push of a button. Now Billy wants to help other kids achieve their inventing dreams just like he has!

So Billy is hosting an online contest for other kid-inventors to share their inventions, and the winning submission will be produced by his company. Ideas like the Sibling Silencer, No-Wash Socks, and a pencil that does all your work start pouring in. With so many great ideas, how is Billy supposed to pick a winner?

And that’s not all. Billy also has to keep the secret that could take him from hero to zero in a flash if anyone found out. Can Billy Sure find a way to stay on top of the world and help other kids achieve their dreams at the same time?

Each book in this series includes Billy’s drawings and doodles of inventions and more!”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

Cleonardo, the Little Inventor (4.5 / 5)

“Cleonardo's father is an inventor. So was her grandfather, her great-grandfather, and all the great-greats before them. Cleo wants to be an inventor too. She tries to help her father in his workshop, but he never uses her great ideas. Can Cleo invent something big and important and perfect all by herself?

This imaginative story of a father and his daughter brings the magic of creativity to little inventors everywhere.”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

How This Book Was Made (4.5 / 5)

“You may think you know how this book was made, but you don't. Sure, the author wrote many drafts, and the illustrator took a long time creating the art, but then what? How'd it get into your hands? Well, open the cover and read through these pages to find out. Just beware of the pirates and angry tiger.

New York Times best-selling creators Mac Barnett and Adam Rex reveal the nitty gritty process of making a book . . . with a few unexpected twists along the way! Budding writers and artists will laugh at the mix of reality and the absurd as the story makes its way to a shelf, and a reader.”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid's Guide To Developing The Mind-Set For Success (4.5 / 5)

“A 16-year-old earning $60,000 a month working with such clients as IBM and Microsoft? A 14-year-old earning $1.2 million in a year . . . making jam? The number of child entrepreneurs has increased unimaginably over the past 20 years, and this rate will not decrease anytime soon. The Making of a Young Entrepreneur is geared toward helping kids build a solid business foundation using the same principles the author employed when she started her own business at age 9. This book is a golden display of the heart of a young girl who wants to see people reach their full potential by refusing to be spectators of their own dreams!”           

Get Your Copy at Amazon

Better Than a Lemonade Stand!: Small Business Ideas for Kids (4 / 5)

“Filled with delightfully simple business ideas, Better than a Lemonade Stand! is a fun guide packed with creative ideas that show how to start a business with little or no start-up costs, attract and retain customers, develop negotiating skills, and more.

Originally written and published when the author was only fifteen years old, Better than a Lemonade Stand! has already helped thousands of kids start their own profitable small businesses. Now an adult and father himself, Daryl Bernstein has polished and expanded his book for a new generation of budding entrepreneurs.

This indispensable resource includes more than fifty, fun, simple business ideas—complete with tips about supplies, time needed, what to charge, and how to advertise—all completely updated with strategies based on Bernstein’s own experience as a successful entrepreneur and father.”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs With Big Ideas! (4.5 / 5)

‘’You've heard the saying, It's never too late; We say, It's never too early! Even children can be introduced to basic business principles and the rewards of entrepreneurship. Our goal with Kidpreneurs is to outline some basic tools and strategies kids can use to gain valuable experience in starting, managing, and growing a successful business venture. Through easy-to-understand basic principles and a creative approach, we outline some key techniques that will have a powerful and positive impact on your child's ability to understand entrepreneurship. Using kid-friendly design and illustrations, we break down some of the major points of entrepreneurship, so your child can have fun as he or she learns. Also, your child will enhance his or her decision-making skills by trying out simple businesses as he or she grows up. Tomorrow's future starts today. Share Kidpreneurs with your children, and help plant the seeds for a stronger future.”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire (4.5 / 5)

“Cleopatra Edison Oliver has always been an entrepreneur, just like her inspiration, successful businesswoman Fortune A. Davies. So when Cleo's fifth-grade teacher assigns her class a "Passion Project," Cleo comes up with her best business idea yet: the finest "tooth-pulling" company in town. With the help of her best friend Caylee, a Nerf gun, her dad's tablet, and her patented Persuasion Power, Cleo's Quick and Painless Tooth Removal Service starts to take off.

But even the best made plans, by the best CEOs, go awry sometimes. A minor barfing incident during a tooth-pulling operation causes Cleo to lose customers. Caylee, initially enthusiastic about the business, grows distant as Cleo neglects their friendship in lieu of getting more customers. And when a mean classmate makes fun of Cleo for being adopted, everything comes crashing down. Will she be able to rescue her business, salvage her friendship with Caylee, and discover that her true home has been here all along?”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

Financial Literacy

Welcome to Wonderland#1: Home Sweet Motel (4.5 / 5) 

"Eleven-year-old P. T. Wilkie may be the greatest storyteller alive. But he knows one thing for a fact: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live! All-you-can-eat poolside ice cream! A snack machine in the living room! A frog slide! A giant rampaging alligator! (Okay, that last one may or may not be made up.) There’s only one thing the Wonderland doesn’t have, though—customers. And if the Wonderland doesn’t get them soon, P.T. and his friend Gloria may have to say goodbye to their beloved motel forever. 

They need to think BIG. They need to think BOLD. They need an OUTRAGEOUS plan. Luckily for them, Gloria is a business GENIUS, and OUTRAGEOUS is practically P.T.’s middle name. With Gloria’s smarts and P.T.’s world-famous stories and schemes, there’s got to be a way to save the Wonderland! 
BONUS: Includes fun extras like P. T. Wilkie’s outrageous (and sometimes useful) things you learn living in a motel. Installment 1: How to say “Help! The toilet is clogged!” in over twenty languages!”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

The History of Money: From Bartering to Banking (4 / 5)

“What can take the form of a stone with a hole in the middle, a string of shells, a piece of paper, or a plastic card? The answer is money, of course. But when did we start using it? And why? What does money have to do with writing? And how do taxes and interest work? From the Stone Age to modern banking, this lighthearted and engaging account traces the history of the stuff that makes the world go round.”

Get Your Copy at Amazon

The Costly Mistakes that are Plaguing Teens

College acceptance season is one of the most exciting times in a teen’s life. Students will rip open university marked letters searching for the one word that will change their future – congratulations. With that one word, teens will become overwhelmed with the excitement of their new-found independence and freedom.

Teens Preparedness for college Expenses

Yet, what most students don’t think of when they come across “congratulations” is understanding the best way to manage college expenses. In a recent survey conducted on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank | Citizens One, large portions of high school juniors (52%), high school seniors (39%) and even college freshman (34%) reported being unprepared for the cost of college.


In fact, most of the teens surveyed stated that they had not done enough research on how to pay for college, and many had not talked with their parents about their financial options. 

College Savings Results


"It's no wonder that kids feel vulnerable," said Jack Kosakowski, President, and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "As a community, we are not doing enough to educate young people to make smart, sound decisions so they are confident and secure in the choices they make that impact their lives so dramatically."




Bringing Awareness to College Costs

When high school juniors and seniors were asked about the costs of college, the majority responded with “I don’t know.” Other teens admitted that they had not done enough research on HOW they can pay for college. In fact, only 8 percent of college freshmen surveyed provided an accurate answer when asked how much in-state tuition for a public four-year college cost.

With the staggering perception of college costs, most can agree that students need to seek more information to the costs associated with higher education.

While some teens may seek information from their parents, they also look to their high school staff, college websites, friends, college fairs, social media and financial websites or financial organizations to discover the costs of college, according to the survey.

Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer deposits and lending at Citizens Bank stated, "It's clear that more needs to be done to help equip students with the tools necessary to minimize student debt and help students make more informed decisions on what loan is best for them," said Coughlin. "We're helping our young people understand how to make smart financial decisions so they can pursue their studies and begin their careers after college on sound financial footing."

As most can agree that college is an exciting time in a teen’s life, it should also be a time when they begin to understand how to budget and save and how they can afford their college endeavor.

To uncover more findings from this Junior Achievement and Citizens Bank | Citizens One survey, and to find resources to help your teen plan for his or her future, click here.  

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