Financial Literacy for schools

I attended a seminar recently on financial literacy in education  which I found to be very interesting.  It was great to see banks taking a bit of responsibility for educating kids about finance (particularly considering they are the ones who entice them to spend by offering credit cards, personal loans etc).    Just consider the message that kids receive about money, in a world where the actual exchange of money for goods is no longer the norm.  Here are a few scenarios that were raised at the seminar to demonstrate kids’ experiences of money:

  1. Mum or dad does the weekly grocery shop and at the checkout instead of handing over money they are asked by the cashier whether they would like money out (as youngsters stand by, how does this appear to them – go shopping and you get money as well!)
  2. The updated Monopoly game no longer has pretend money.  The game is played using a credit card.
  3. Advertisements on TV: having money problems: Cash converters will sort it out for you! Just come on in!
  4. As soon as kids become earners or reach 18, they are offered credit cards, loans etc.
  5. The large number of kids who get into debt with their mobile phone accounts.

What was agreed on by educators, is that generation-Y is different to previous generations from a financial perspective.  They are growing up where money is becoming more invisible.  Their parents are the first generation dealing with moving into a cashless society and were not taught financial literacy skills.  Generation-Y kids are used to immediacy; they are not used to waiting (why save up for something when all the ads say ‘take it home with you now’, ‘buy now, pay later’; it’s the ME/MY generation!!).   And how easy is it to spend online …   A new set of goals is being written by the Australian Government, (Council for the Australian Federation, Future of Schooling in Australia) due out December this year, outlining the importance of financial literacy inclusion in the curriculum.

Here are suggestions that educators came up as topics that kids need to know about (not in order of importance and is not exhaustive):

  1. the value of money
  2. the cost of debt
  3. the cost of living
  4. bank fees and charges
  5. budgeting and saving
  6. the nature of finance
  7. reading the fine print (on contracts)
  8. government regulations
  9. taxation
  10. income versus expenditure
  11. interest and inflation
  12. understanding money
  13. identifying what money is spent on
  14. the complexity of choice ie different loans
  15. investing
  16. types of investment: property, shares, term-deposits
  17. interest-free
  18. financial literacy: understanding the words used

Education programs being offered by banks to Australian schools

As I said, it’s great to see banks putting some money into education.  The Commonwealth Bank Foundation has a Start Smart program which teaches kids smart earning, smart saving, smart spending and smart investing.  They offer StartSmart Workshops in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.  Their programs are designed to engage teenagers to learn about money management, using engaging facilitators to run theatrical sessions, workshops and game shows that educate young people about how to be smarter with money.  Schools can choose from four modules: smart earning, smart saving, smart spending and smart investing.  Visit for more information.  Facilitators visit schools free of charge.

In addition, the Foundation offers StartSmart Teacher Development Workshops in all capital cities each year.

Curriculum resources provide teachers with relevant and engaging money management information and activities for secondary school students. There are 12 modules available at:

The Foundation also offers financial literacy grants which are aimed at helping schools implement education programs that develop students’ financial literacy awareness. Each year, 100 grants of $3,500 are awarded to schools that put forward an effective, innovative and relevant financial literacy education for consideration. More information including examples, is available at literacy grants. I think the closing date for applications this year is around mid-September.

Financial Literacy Resources

The Australian Government has also produced a guide: Consumer and Financial Literacy Professional Learning Program – Teacher Guide, available from Curriculum Corporation, ph 03 9207 9600, Website: They have available a host of great resources including:

Understanding Money: including links to many quality educational resources.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission consumer education: includes teacher resource section on managing money for middle school, 7-10.

NatWest Bank MoneySense: teaches children money maangement life skills. Materials grouped: 11-14, 14-16 and 16-18. Four modules: how to open a bank account, how to manage money on a day-to-day basis, budgeting and how to run a business.

Financial Basics Foundation: contains 10 modules covering topics such as financial planning, income, budgeting, financial protection, credit and borrowing and mobile phones.

Financial Basics Foundation, ESSI (Earning, Saving, Spending and Investing) game: for upper primary/lower secondary students.  The player is required to make selections on gaols, financial choices, calculations and other matters to achieve the most assets at the end of the ’26 week’ period. Playing time about six hours.

Commonwealth Bank Foundation: 10-module teaching program includes, earning an income, spending and sving, customer protection, buying a car, managing finances and planning and running a business.

Dollars and Sense: financial management information for 14-17 year olds. Topics: borrowing and lending; jobs, work and money; getting things you want; running your own business, mobile phones.

Finance First Making Cents: for ages 7-12; matched to social studies and maths. The lower primary scenario focuses on a pocket money situation; the middle primary on organising a birthday party, the upper primary on manging mobile phone costs.

Phone Choice: useful advice about plans, rates, providers, scams and deals for mobile phones, landlines, VoIP and other telecommunications.

Money Stuff: topics: advertising, buying a car, mobile phones, house purchase, renting, starting work. The teachers’ resources include print and video resources.

Spendwell: animated program for years 6-9 using problem solving activities suitable for cooperative and individual learning. Topics: buying, living away, mobile phone usage and online shopping.

The Real Game: career devleopment program integrating financial literacy concepts across key learning areas. Five versions for different year levels.  Students explore the concepts and strategies that will enable them to make better informed decisions on education, income, job satisfaction, and gain a realistic understanding of adult life, work and society.

For other countries other than Australia, contact your big banks and see if they have a similar program. If they don’t, show them this post!


Commonwealth of Australia, 2008, Consumer and Financial Literacy, Professional Learning Program – Teacher Guide,

Commonwealth Bank Foundation, 2008,