8 Fun Financial Literacy Activities For Middle Schoolers

Finance and money- these are the two words that we hear most often as the world seems to be functioning on this. This fact makes it very important for children to have at least an elementary knowledge about financial literacy, which will hold them on good footing in their adult lives.

Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use financial skills efficiently. It is the foundation of an individual’s relationship with money. It involves five components: earn, spend, save and invest, borrow and protect. Financial literacy is essential because it provides a foundation for informed financial decision-making, and also the ever-increasing financial responsibility.

The earlier we try to understand the concepts, the more well-informed we will be. Hence, the below-mentioned activities can be employed to build the required financial literacy among students.

Financial literacy: Is middle school the right time to implement this skill?

Financial literacy classes teach students the basics of money management. Savings, debts, investments, and budgeting are a few of them. This knowledge lays a foundation for students to build financial habits, practice them very early in life, and avoid the complications that lead to lifelong financial struggles. 

Financial Literacy courses help students to develop money habits. If introduced early, the learners have the time to apply what they have learned. Financial literacy, if taught in middle school along with basics like math and English, empowers them to handle their money wisely. 

Middle school seems to be the right time to introduce this subject as this is the time when the children become aware of the financial tools and risks.

Activities to learn financial literacy

Financial literacy is a concept that can be well explained by certain games and activities. Whether learning about budgeting or saving, a few activities can be used for middle schools to help them get the basics of financial literacy. 

1. Walk in someone else’s shoes.

Financial Literacy activities for middle school

In this activity, Students are put into groups and are assigned various circumstances—single, married, children, student loans, car payments. They are asked to estimate the expenses of each person for a week. Students have to create and manage a budget. 

They then tally every single expense made by a person for a week. The expenses are then compared with the predictions they made. Through this activity, the students can understand budgets and expenses. They can also comprehend and relate to the spending and saving habits of others. 

2. Teach grocery shopping

Financial Literacy activities for middle school

In this activity, introduce grocery shopping to the students by using an online service and ask them to prepare an imaginary list. The learners are then helped with organizing their budget with the fixed amount each one has. This can be an imaginary fixed amount that can be set unanimously. 

The children are encouraged to document the expenses and maintain the list for a week. At the end of the week, the children are asked to assess if they had enough money or if they had to compromise on any item due to a shortage. Did they modify the quantity of the item? 

This helps the children to reflect upon their budget planning and their purchasing choices. Through this activity, students can get to know about their savings and learn to alter their choices due to financial reasons. The activity also helps the students to understand the grocery expenses made at home and to appreciate the value of money. 

3. Find the best bet

Getting the best price and knowing the items which actually value for money is also a crucial aspect of being a financially literate individual. This activity caters to that only. In this activity, students can use the internet to find out the best prices available for an item.

This activity can be conducted as holiday homework or can be assigned for a long weekend. The teacher must give a list of 10 items, which the students can compare online on various e-commerce platforms. On a sheet of paper, they need to write where they got the best price, and how much the difference is between where they are getting it the cheapest, and where it is the costliest. 

This activity will help them form a practice of doing a market survey for the prices before purchasing an item blindly. Hence, the student will be better financially literate once they know what item value and how much in different places. 

4.  Making money grow

Being able to save is a crucial aspect of financial literacy. Moreover, when children see their money growing, they will form a habit of saving the maximum they can once they start earning. For this activity, the students can be told that they will be saving money in an account with compound interest. Various cards are prepared that display different rates of interest. 

Next up, each learner picks up a card. Each day is considered equivalent to 5 years. The interest rate is accordingly calculated. The students are asked to compare their savings and note how there has been exponential growth in the amount.

This activity introduces the students to the concept of compound interest calculation and would also teach them volumes about saving and knowing how important savings can be to make money grow. 

5. Getting a loan

Financial Literacy activities for middle school

For this activity, students are split into small groups of 3-4 members. One group member acts as a bank while the remaining group members act as loan applicants. Once these roles have been assigned, the students that are acting as bank employees conduct interviews with loan applicants to determine who they would and would not give a loan. 

Students should be able to use authentic answers or create a different financial “persona”. Some points to consider while bankers are interviewing their applicants include, the income of the applicant, the borrower’s details, what is the loan for, and whom the applicant owes. 

This activity helps the student to have an understanding of how loans are sanctioned and the criteria to have a loan approved by the bank. It also depicts how the loan is repaid with interest. This activity can be quite useful for kids in middle school as they would be introduced to the topic of loans, one which is very crucial to financial literacy. 

6. Discuss needs and wants

Financial Literacy activities for middle school

A dollar saved is a dollar earned. Children must be made aware of saving money and having a clear distinction between needs and wants. The things needed for survival and the things that are needed for convenience must be differentiated. 

For this activity, students can be given a list of items, where they have to differentiate them into 3 categories – Need, want, and luxury. Teachers can include items like Milk, chocolate, handbags, clothes, mobile phone, watch, water, etc. 

Differentiating between these items would give the students a heads-up as to what is the most crucial to purchase, and what can be put on hold till the pocket allows. This is a crucial aspect if one wants to learn how to be literate when it comes to finances. 

7. Time travel

Financial Literacy activities for middle school

Encourage the students to dream of their future. How do they visualize their future to be? What lifestyle do they want for themselves? What is the profession or means of income they have planned? What is the salary required for that lifestyle?

The students also have to consider taxes, unforeseen expenses, travel expenses, bills, and other essential expenditures. The students are asked to find out the actual prices for items of daily use. This gives them a clear idea of the income they are planning and if it is sufficient for the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves. 

8. Finance words board

The students are asked to create a board with words related to finance. For eg; mortgage, interest, taxes, investments, salary, etc. The definitions are also mentioned. 

Being a fun activity, this game serves as a ready reckoner for terms whenever required. Being easily accessible the words gradually will become familiar and the concept easily understood. This means, that the kids will have vast knowledge about types of investments, taxes, and much more and this would help them in their later years. 

Lastly, how can activities help children understand financial literacy?

Activities help children experience situations close to real-life situations. They help the child understand financial tools, thus introducing financial literacy. Financially literate people are more confident about their money and possess greater skills in handling difficulties if and when they arise. They have a better ability to make financial decisions. They can manage debt and finances effectively. A planned budget is possible, thereby leading to less financial stress and anxiety. All these are a result of introducing financial literacy to the children at an earlier level, thus making them well acquainted with the concepts by the time they are adults.

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