8 Free Financial Literacy Activities for Youth

by Julia McDonald on 16 Nov, 2021

At ChatterHigh, we love talking about career exploration. The whole process of self-discovery and learning about job opportunities is exciting and vital to student engagement. However, setting students up for future success requires more than just career exploration. Without financial know-how, students may be ill-prepared to make informed decisions with regards to budgeting, loans, saving, investments, and more. And that’s problematic. 


According to data published by the OECD on how frequently Canadian youth complete financial activities in their everyday life:

student financial literacy statistic

student financial literacy statistic

student financial literacy statistic

These are some pretty basic and fundamental financial activities. For example, budgeting is a simple and effective way to avoid spending money you don’t have, which can be especially helpful for students who are living independently for the first time. Yet, we see that Canadian youth aren’t very familiar with these practices. But that’s not all. Research also shows that there is a gender gap.


In fact, the PISA 2018 assessment discovered that when accounting for performance in mathematics and reading, the gender gap for financial literacy “was significant and in favour of boys in 13 of the 19 participating countries/economies.” This study also found that when it came to using digital financial services like paying with a debit card, keeping track of their balance, or transferring money, boys were more confident than girls. In addition to finding a gender gap, the research also discovered a significant gap regarding socioeconomic status. Specifically, “advantaged students scored 78 score points, or roughly one proficiency level, higher than disadvantaged students.”  


So where do we go from here? Well, we went to the web to find some fantastic financial literacy activities you can do with students to improve their financial confidence and capabilities (and it won’t cost you a dime). To ensure no student is left behind, we found some free online games and printable material that all students can access and enjoy.


Free Online Financial Literacy Activities

1. Money Magic


Money Magic Finlit Game


“Money Magic” is all about budgeting. In this online game, students become the manager of Enzo, a magician who aspires to perform in Vegas. In each round, students have to allocate money from a limited budget towards different categories. The choices students make directly impact how much Enzo earns from a show, as well as meters, such as the “morale meter,” on the side of the screen. Students must learn to optimize their limited resources, as well as respond to unexpected costs, to maximize Enzo’s performance and therefore his profit.



2. Lights, Camera, Budget!


Lights Camera Budget Finlit Game

If your students aren’t interested in planning a magic show, perhaps they’d like to produce a movie with a $100 million budget. While the title mentions budgeting, “Lights, Camera, Budget!” introduces students to other financial concepts, such as credit, saving, and insurance. Since students earn money for answering finance-oriented quiz questions correctly, the success of their movie depends on their financial know-how. This game also has the added benefit of offering one version for middle school students and one for high school students.



3. Shady Sam


Shady Sam Finlit Game

In this game, students are employed by loan shark Shady Sam. As Sam’s employees, they are tasked with getting as much money as possible from clients. Every time a client asks for a loan, three options appear, each listing the monthly payment amount (including interest), the interest rate, and the length of the loan. It’s up to students to choose the loan option that will make their shady boss the most money. This role-reversal game helps students understand some of the ins and outs of debt. In particular, it teaches them that the lowest monthly payment isn’t always the best option.



4. JA Campus


JA Digital Campus

JA Canada is the country’s largest youth business education organization. They offer a variety of resources for students, teachers, and parents, including some fantastic online courses through their free, virtual learning space called JA Campus. While they have teacher-led courses, which you can check out here, their self-directed programs are a great way to get students engaged in financial literacy activities at home or in the classroom. Courses such as Personal Finance and Economics for Success are particularly helpful in promoting financial literacy in students, as they cover topics such as paycheques, taxes, budgeting, and credit. Students in BC can even explore this content in a gamified way using the ChatterHigh platform.



5. ChatterHigh


ChatterHigh Finlit Activities

ChatterHigh’s proven “research and learn” approach is a great way to engage students in financial literacy activities. The gamified design of our platform, not to mention the ability to earn points to win prizes or donate to charity, motivates students to dive into the material. As mentioned, we’ve partnered with JA BC to offer Personal Finance and Economics for Success to students in BC through our platform. But we’re not stopping there. In fact, we just partnered with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to offer a brand-new module all about financial literacy. And this module will be available to students across Canada. It’s still in the works, but we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s launching. For more information, you can contact us at info@chatterhigh.com or check out our Partners page if you want to join us in preparing students for their future through financial literacy education. 



Free Printable Financial Literacy Activities


6. Money Mentors: Teacher Resources & Classroom Activities 


Money Mentors Free Finlit Resources

Money Mentors is an Alberta-based non-profit financial counselling and education agency, and they want to provide you with free financial literacy activities for your students! In fact, they have at least two free worksheets or activities for each grade level, plus additional worksheets. Covering topics such as fixed vs. variable expenses, debt vs. assets, how to read a pay stub and opportunity cost, the material helps show students the relevance of financial literacy in their everyday lives.



7. Make it Count: An Instructor’s Guide to Youth Money Management 


Make it Count Free Finlit Activities

The Credit Counselling Society partnered with the Surrey (BC) School District to offer you a downloadable PDF filled with 17 lesson plans, complete with games and worksheets for your students. Designed for students in grades 4 to 7, the lessons fall into four categories: Back to basics, Out and about, Lessons for life and Fun with friends. This PDF is packed with fun worksheets that will get your students making budgets for vacations and parties, assessing types of banking accounts, and calculating the cost of their entertainment.



8. InCharge: Financial Literacy Lesson Plans for High School Teachers


In Charge Finlit lesson plans

InCharge is a company offering debt solutions and on their website, they have an entire page dedicated to high school teacher resources! This page includes resources for 14 different lesson plans, complete with worksheets, teaching notes, and PowerPoint presentations. Here are just a few of the great topics you’ll find covered: 

  • Budgeting
  • Buying a Home
  • Credit
  • The Influence of Advertising
  • Consumer Privacy


Know of another free (and fun) financial literacy resource that educators would love? Drop us a note via the contact page and we’ll add it to our roundup!

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