According to a survey by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, only five U.S. states (Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia) require high school students to complete a personal finance course in order to graduate. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have few or no personal finance requirements in their high school curricula.
The remaining 34 U.S. states fall somewhere in between on the spectrum. Some states might require schools to work some personal finance information into economics or civics classes. Select schools might offer a stand-alone personal finance class — but only as an elective, not a graduation requirement.
So how can you be sure your teen has access to helpful information about managing their money? For one thing, you can set a good example with your own money skills, and talk openly to your teen about basics like the importance of maintaining good credit, learning to budget, and making an effort to save and invest.
Here are a few options to get you started:
Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance: Financial author, teacher, and radio talk show host Dave Ramsey offers an online self-study guide for high school students for around $100. As a parent, you might want to review the material with them. Ramsey also offers more comprehensive in-person and self-study financial classes for adults called Financial Peace University (FPU).
Hands on Banking: While this money skills site provides financial advice for all ages, the teen section offers informative content on topics like how money moves the economy, getting money in the bank, comparing value, and more.
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy: This nonprofit organization’s website offers some interesting online activities. Its Jump$tart Reality Check challenges teens to estimate what it will cost for them to live on their own. The site also collects listings of personal finance resources for parents and teachers.
My Financial Guide: Both you and your teen can visit My Financial Guide to learn about financial topics ranging from basic finances to how to pay for college. And, get answers to common questions about accounts, loans, and credit cards.
National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE): This national nonprofit offers a free curriculum specifically for teens: High School Financial Planning Program. The course is designed to be used in small groups or workshops, but can also be used as a one-on-one teaching tool for a parent and teen. All teaching materials and student workbooks are free. The information included in the course follows national academic standards for personal finance courses.
Practical Money Skills: This site sponsored by Visa® offers articles, teacher lesson plans, and online games that teach kids real-life money skills. Many of the games are geared toward younger kids, but teens (and even adults) might appreciate Financial Football, Road Trip to Savings, and Countdown to Retirement.