The ABCs of Money: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Financial Basics

Key Terms To Teach Your Kids or Students

credit score, risk, online bill pay, joint account, zombie debt

The Balance / Aeri Wittenbourgh

Do you remember the first time you were introduced to the concept of money? For most, it happens at a young age through socialization—think overheard conversations between parents in the home, video game interactions, or watching a caregiver receive their pay. But actually teaching financial topics is what can really set kids up for success.

Research indicates that starting financial education at a young age helps people develop better money management habits as adults. While a record number of parents reported having conversations about money with their kids once a week or more (47%) in 2021—partially in response to financial distress from the COVID-19 pandemic—starting those conversations may be challenging. For example, 82% of parents cited “fear” as a barrier to talking to their kids about finances, according to a 2019 survey by credit union BECU.

To help kids become financially literate, basic money-related terms can be the bridge they need to cross to fully understand key concepts, and The Balance is here to help build that bridge.

Just as the alphabet is used to teach kids the 26 letters of the English language that are part of their day-to-day routine, this series will guide parents, teachers, or any other adults to teaching key money terms to kids around 8- to 12-years-old. We’ve covered everything from credit scores, equity, and volatility to zombie debt—all while keeping kids engaged with relatable examples and colorful imagery:

To keep the learning and conversation going, all 26 terms can be downloaded, printed out, and used as flashcards.

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  1. PR Newswire. “T. Rowe Price: Pandemic's Impact To Financial Well-Being Compels More Parents Than Ever To Have Money Conversations With Their Kids.”

  2. BECU. “BECU Finance and Parents Survey,” Page 7.

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