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119 Money Management Skills for Youth to Learn About (Before Adulthood)

The basic money management skills for youth are great to know, but let’s get really, really specific with money management skills for youth to master.

You want to teach your child, your teen, and your students how to manage their money.

young teen girl with mom and dad, her piggy bank and calculator, text overlay "list of 119 specific money management skills your child needs to learn"

But…you’re wondering what exactly are the money management skills for youth to learn in order to survive (and thrive) as an adult?

I mean, what are you shooting for here?

Don’t worry – I’ve made this list both exhausting and specific so that you can walk away with concrete ideas for what your students and kids need to learn about money in order to smooth the transition into adulthood (one day).

Note: Before you dive into this long list, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else – remember that giving your child a money education is an 18-year-long process. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start somewhere!

Basic Money Management Skills for Youth

The basic money management skills youth and students need to learn fall into the following seven categories:

  1. Handling money
  2. Earning money
  3. Spending money
  4. Growing money
  5. Banking money
  6. Organizing money
  7. Protecting money

We’ll go into lots of details of each money management skill I’ve identified within these categories.

Money Management Skills for Youth

Now we’ll take each of those big categories from above, and drive down with specifics on the money management skills youth need to learn to really master each one.

1. Handle Your Money

This category is all about physically handling your money. Your child likely knows how to identify and count coins already…but can they make change, track their spending, and write a check?

Kids need to be able to do things like:

  • Recognize coins and bills
  • Count money
  • Make change with money
  • Make a cash purchase
  • Keep track of my money
  • Make a debit card purchase
  • Write a check
  • Confidently handle money

2. Earn Your Money

Before a child can learn to manage money, they’ve got to earn it. And not only earn it, but understand the ins and outs of earning money in general.

Kids need to know things like:

  • Money is earned
  • The difference between salary and hourly income
  • People can get paid weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly
  • The difference between gross and net pay
  • How to set up direct deposit of paychecks into my checking account
  • How to take advantage of a matching contribution to my 401(k)-retirement account from my employer
  • The difference between merit raises and cost of living increases
  • My earnings are taxed by the U.S. government
  • States have different income tax levels (and several states have none)
  • I have to file personal tax returns each year
  • How to create a resume
  • How to apply for a job
  • To look up the cost of living before taking a job
  • Some jobs only consider college graduates, while other jobs accept high school/GEDs graduates
  • I can negotiate my income when I receive a job offer
  • How to negotiate other benefits in a job offer package besides salary
  • How to secure references for future job applications
  • What passive income is
  • That you need a business plan before starting a business
  • Starting a business costs money and has risks
  • Businesses need customers who want what I want to sell (product, or service)
  • The difference between gross and net profit
  • Business owners must file additional tax documents each year

3. Spend Your Money

If your kid can make a transaction, then they understand how to spend money, right?

Well…not entirely. There are lots of specifics to learn about spending money.

Kids need to know things like:

  • The difference between a need and a want
  • That if I spend my money on one thing, it means I’m saying no to something else (opportunity costs)
  • The difference between buying something new and used
  • That much of what I spend my money on gets taxed added to it
  • How to read a store receipt
  • How to return a product to a store
  • How to use a coupon
  • The difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon
  • How to submit a rebate
  • How to compare prices of same-sized products
  • How to compare prices between online and physical stores
  • How to figure out the cost of something that is sold by weight
  • How to ask for a discount
  • Some purchases require maintenance spending, while others are a one-time expense
  • The difference between a gift card, a debit card, and a credit card
  • Where money is sourced for debit card purchases, and where it’s sourced for credit card purchases
  • How to plan my spending
  • How to track my spending online, and by paper
  • How someone gets into debt
  • What loyalty reward programs are for the products/services I use regularly
  • The difference between “I can’t afford this” and “I want to prioritize something else”
  • How to look at pros and cons when making a financial decision
  • The difference between a fixed expense and a variable expense
  • The difference between renting and owning
  • How to pay a bill, online and by mail
  • How to politely dispute a bill
  • How to do a spending audit
  • The consequences to not paying bills on time
  • If I don’t pay a credit card within the grace period, I get charged interest
  • How overspending can lead to bankruptcy
  • How to pump gas, and how to pay for it at the pump and inside the store
  • That spending with a credit card can offer price protection and other protections
  • How to shop around for insurance policies
  • How to eat healthy, on a budget
  • How to get quotes from multiple people before making a spending decision
  • How to make a donation to a charity, and that I might get a tax write-off from it
  • The different sources of paying for college (grants, scholarships, loans)
  • Ads are marketing messages are created so that I’ll be more likely to buy a product
  • To get a loan, I need to have some sort of collateral
  • I can get a loan with the help of a co-signer

4. Grow Your Money

Growing your money is such an important money management skill for youth to learn – because let’s face it, that’s how they’ll be able to afford to retire comfortably one day.

Kids need to know things like:

  • If I don’t spend all my money, I can save it into a larger amount
  • If I put my money in a bank with an interest rate, it grows
  • How to set a savings goal
  • The difference between a long-term savings goal and a short-term one
  • What compound interest is
  • The difference between saving money and investing money
  • What an emergency fund is, and how to calculate what mine should be based on expenses
  • It’s easier to save money when you keep your living expenses low
  • Gaining education and specialized training may increase my income
  • The difference between a Certificate of Deposit, a bond, a stock, and a mutual fund
  • The difference between a Traditional and a Roth retirement account
  • How to use a retirement calculator
  • How to open a retirement account, and that I have to fund it by choosing investments

5. Bank Your Money

Understanding banking and how to use banking products is a huge part of money management. There’re tons of banking skills for kids and teens to learn.

Kids need to know:

  • How to roll my coins from a jar and take them to the bank to deposit
  • Why you’d want to save money in a bank and not in jars
  • Bank accounts are FDIC insured
  • What to look for when picking a bank account (fees, interest rate, FDIC-insured, etc.)
  • How to open a bank account (checking or savings)
  • The difference between cash, checks, debit cards, and credit cards
  • What it means to overdraft, overdraft fees, and how to opt out of them
  • How to use an ATM, and potential fees involved
  • How to connect accounts online (checking, savings, investments, etc.)
  • The difference between earning interest on money saved and paying interest on loans I’ve taken out
  • How to close a bank account
  • How to set up automatic withdrawals to savings
  • How to set up automatic bill pay
  • How to use my bank’s mobile app
  • How to apply for a credit card
  • Credit cards may have an annual fee
  • I take control over my financial accounts at either 18 or 21 (depending on my state’s laws)

6. Organize Your Money

Organizing money is another super-important (but often overlooked) money management skill students need to learn.

Kids need to be able to:

  • Organize my money in a wallet, purse, money jar, etc.
  • Create a budget for all my income and expenses (how to budget as a teen)
  • Open separate bank accounts for separate money goals and needs
  • Budget my money by percentages according to my life priorities

7. Protect Your Money

The thing is – you can do all of the other money management categories. But if you don’t know how to properly protect your money?

Well, you could lose it all.

Kids need to know that:

  • You pay a monthly premium for insurance policies
  • The various types of major insurance policies (life, health, car, home, business, etc.)
  • You should read the fine print before signing financial documents and contracts
  • My personal identity can be stolen through my financial accounts
  • Banks offer insurance for money I keep in them, but investments do not
  • The difference between my credit report and my credit score
  • The difference between getting insurance and self-insuring
  • My credit score can be looked at by employers wanting to hire me
  • When I combine finances with someone, I take on some of their financial responsibilities (as do they)
  • What a prenuptial agreement is
  • I can get a free credit report each year, and should periodically check it for suspicious activity
  • I should research any organization before giving them money
  • I should get any financial transactions and promises in writing
  • What receipts I should keep and for how long
  • What financial documents to keep, and for how long

The next time you're stuck with what to teach your child about money, whip out this list of money management skills for youth (you might want to grab that free printable). It'll show you the types of things to check in and see if your child or students understand, as well as the path forward for your child to master money management before leaving the nest.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.