8 Financial Literacy Benchmarks for Children of Every Age

Financial Literacy Benchmarks for Children of Every Age

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 managing a budget, financial literacy equips kids with the tools they need to thrive.

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

By making a plan in advance, you can start taking steps to support your kids on their journey to financial independence. 

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

In today’s article, we’ll show you how to support children of any age in hitting the financial literacy benchmarks they’ll need and teaching them to manage money with care.


Preschoolers are still coming into their own, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn the basics of money management. 

Whether they have a strong grasp on what money really is or they’re 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 touching on the adage, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” 

Hand them a traditional piggy bank and explain how they’ll start using it to store change and save money. You could also opt for an online version and teach kids how 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 instance, hand them any change you get when you come home from the store. Or hand over any loose money you find in your purse.

Learning and practicing how to count money

Before adding money to the piggy bank, ask your preschooler to count each coin and bill. If they haven’t learned what each coin and bill amounts to, practice identifying each one first and then counting. 

When a child struggles to grasp counting or simply needs more practice, dedicate a few minutes each week to online counting games.A screenshot showing two counting games for preschoolers.

image: splashlearn
Take piggy banking a step further by having your kiddos count their way to their savings goal — and then choose a dedicated item to buy and celebrate with.

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

Practice saying something like, “Hey Matthew, here are four pennies. Can you count them out to the cashier, please? One, two, three, …” 

Summary: Financial literacy benchmarks for preschoolers 

At preschool age, kids should begin to:

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


Grade schoolers have a firmer grasp of the world around them. By this age, they typically know how to count and save money, and what money is used for. 

Give grade school kids a further leg up with the following three tips.

Learning how to bank 

An important benchmark to start your children on the road to financial success is getting them to understand banking basics. 

Begin with simple things, like depositing into a checking account versus a savings account or learning how to use a debit card. 

Drive the idea home further by opening up their very own kids’ checking account, savings account, and get them a kid-friendly debit card.

Pay special attention to debit card do’s and don’ts, too. For instance, teach your child the importance of tracking debit card spending in a small book or ledger — and how to check their work using online banking.

Learning investment basics 

Grade school children will need some time to understand investment basics, so start by teaching your kids how money grows. 

Use visuals and storytelling to paint a picture. 

For instance, “Money grows like a garden. When you water seeds and give them enough sun, flowers grow, right? When you invest your money with care, new money can grow, too.” 

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

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

Financial gifting app for kids

image: getearlybird
When a loved one makes a new deposit or investment on your child’s behalf, open the app and show 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 investment basics.

Earning an allowance

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

Start with one weekly chore, like taking out the trash or deep cleaning their room. If they’re open to it and they have time, see if you can bump it up to one or two more weekly chores.

Summary: Financial literacy benchmarks for grade-schoolers 

Grade schoolers should begin to:

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


By their teenage years, children should understand the fundamentals, including earning, spending, and saving their own money. They may have even started working and are earning paychecks or direct deposits. Many teens use a debit card frequently. 

Equip teens even further with the following three tips.

Independent banking 

Hand over more financial responsibility to your teen by upgrading their kid-friendly accounts to student bank accounts

If they’re old enough and qualify, consider opening a student credit card, too, 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 look into different careers, it’s important to guide them toward considering a return on investment for their education. 

To set them on the right track, help them research salary guides and standard industry rates according to their dream jobs. 

For instance, if your teen wants to become a nurse, guides like this CRNA salary guide can help them better understand how much money they can make from their chosen career path.

Budgeting and savings plans/goals

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

Screenshot from the budgeting app, Mint

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

Summary: Financial literacy benchmarks for teenagers 

Teenagers should begin to:

  • Practice independent banking 
  • Research career guides and standard industry rates
  • Practice budgeting and saving

Wrap up 

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

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

Are you planning on using any of these tips with your kids? Leave us a comment below and let us know how it goes.

Craving more money management tips? Head to our Finance section to learn more

Image: Depositphotos

Shane Barker Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions.