25 Meaningful Saving and Budgeting Activities for High School Students

If we let students graduate high school without learning key skills like saving and budgeting, we’re doing them a real disservice. These budgeting activities are terrific for a life-skills class, morning meeting discussion, or advisory group unit. Give teens the knowledge they need to make smart financial choices now and in the future!

Classroom Saving and Budgeting Activities

Printable budgeting activities worksheets with a bowl of colorful jellybeans
Pretty Providence

Try the Jellybean Game

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of numbers, start with this clever activity that gives kids practice allocating assets in a low-stakes way. They’ll use jellybeans to decide what they need, want, and can truly afford.

Learn more: The Jellybean Game

Portion of a printable spending tracker for teens to use to learn about budgeting

Use budget-planning worksheets

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has developed lots of tools to help teens and adults learn to manage money. Show kids how to use their Income Tracker, Spending Tracker, Bill Calendar, and Budget Worksheet (all at the link below). Start by having kids consider their current financial situation. Then, give them hypothetical “adult” situations to plan for, with income and expenses drawn from typical people in your area.

Learn more: Budgeting Worksheet Tools

Portion of a printable budget activities worksheet with a table to help students make a plan for buying something they want

Create a buying plan

This activity encourages kids to think about purchases, especially major ones. Saving money is just one part of the process—they also need to consider what makes a good purchase and whether they should pay up front or borrow the money instead.

Learn more: Creating a Buying Plan

Practice grocery shopping

Most kids probably have no idea how much groceries cost. Use grocery store websites to your advantage, and have kids take a virtual shopping trip. They can plan meals and determine what they’ll need to buy. Or have them start with a weekly food budget and work backwards from there. Either way, remind them to make sure their menus include healthy options.

Learn more: Make a Great Grocery List at WebMD

Part of a printable worksheet to help kids plan for financial emergencies

Build a savings “first-aid kit”

It’s no secret that things can and do go wrong. Budgeting activities like this one help students learn what to do when unexpected expenses crop up. Students learn about real-world costs and come up with ways to save in advance and adjust on the fly.

Learn more: Savings First Aid Kit

Page from Career Profiles showing the average salary for a teacher
Career Profiles

Discover what jobs actually pay

Ask students to list some jobs they think they’d like to do someday. Then, have them research average salaries for those jobs. Encourage them to factor in where they plan to live (salary ranges can be dramatically different across the country). Plus, ask them to think about the education they’ll need to land those jobs, and how long it will take them to earn the money to pay back any loans they’ll have to take.

Learn more: Job Salaries by Field

Find out how credit cards work

These days, most people pay with plastic instead of cash. Sometimes they use debit cards, but often they’re credit cards. If you’re going to use them, you need to know how they work. Divide your class into groups, and ask each to research a different question about credit cards, like how they work, what interest they charge, and how to use them safely.

Learn more: Best Credit Cards at Money Under 30

Experiment with different budget models

There’s no one right way to set up a budget. Expose students to a variety of models, like proportional budgets, the “pay yourself first” model, the envelope budget, and more. Ask them to think about which kind of person each model works best for and which one they’d choose.

Learn more: 6 Different Ways To Budget Your Money at Young Adult Money

Explore Budgeting Apps

Teens are usually pretty attached to their phones, so show them one way to make really good use of screen time: budgeting apps. Learn how to choose a good one in this video.

Screenshot of a compound interest calculator tool used for budgeting activities

Calculate compound interest

When you invest your money in an interest-bearing account, it earns money just by sitting there! That money can really grow over time too. Have students complete budgeting activities like looking up current interest rates and then calculating the potential interest from using those accounts for short and long periods of time. Explore local bank offerings, and take into account things like fees too.

Learn more: Compound Interest Calculator

Learn what “living expenses” means

Kids generally don’t think about all the costs of daily living. Start by brainstorming a big list as a class of all the things people need to spend money on each month: rent or mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, food, entertainment, utilities, Internet access, and more. Break kids into groups and have each group research the average costs of those items in your area. Come back together as a class and add up their findings to see what “living expenses” can really be.

Learn more: Monthly Expenses at Inspired Budget

Results from the JumpStart Reality Check, showing a person would need to make $18.41 per hour to meet their projected needs
Jump$tart Reality Check

Get a reality check

Everybody’s got dreams, but how realistic are they? That’s where the Jump$tart Reality Check program comes in. By making choices about the future they want, teens will learn what they’ll need to earn to make it happen. The answers might really surprise them.

Learn more: Reality Check—Online Tool for Students

Questions from a budgeting activities worksheet asking students to analyze needs vs wants

Reflect on needs vs. wants

Ask students to reflect on what they truly need to survive vs. things that just make life easier or more fun. Budgeting activities like this can help them identify items they can eliminate when funds get really tight.

Learn more: Needs vs. Wants

Learn to protect your money

If teens don’t learn smart skills like avoiding phishing scams, how to choose good passwords, or identifying fraudulent sites, they can lose everything they save. Take time to learn about the most common fraud issues, and teach them how to be responsible online.

Learn more: 8 Ways To Protect Your Money That All Students Should Know at We Are Teachers

Savings and Budgeting Online Games

Screenshot from How to Not Suck at Money showing a woman talking about using a credit card
How Not To Suck at Money

How Not To Suck at Money

The title pretty much says at it all: By playing this game, students learn how to manage their money and use it responsibly.

Learn more: How Not To Suck at Money

Screenshot from The Uber Game
The Uber Game

The Uber Game

Let students imagine life as an Uber driver. This game is based on actual Uber driver experiences and can be a real eye-opener.

Learn more: The Uber Game

Screenshot from Hit the Road, a game to teach teens saving and budgeting skills

Hit the Road

Think of this like Oregon Trail for the modern age. A group of friends is setting off on a cross-country trip, but they’ve got to manage their funds to get where they want to go. Try this one as a group activity so kids have to work together to make smart choices.

Learn more: Hit the Road

Part of the online financial game Budgeting, where students decide what kind of insurance they need
The Bummer Game


Budgeting and saving is important, but students should also learn about the importance of having the right kind of insurance. Because sometimes life really is just a bummer!

Learn more: Bummer

Screenshot from Payback online game showing the costs of college and student loan debt
Time for Payback


College-bound kids might figure they’ll take loans now and figure out how to pay them back later, but do they really have a handle on the true costs? These interesting online simulations let you pick your school, then walk through four years of potential expenses and income opportunities to find out how you fare in the end.

Learn more: Payback

Screenshot of Misadventures in Money Management game for teens
Misadventures in Money Management

Misadventures in Money Management

This online game feels a bit like a graphic novel, and it helps kids learn the basics of budgeting and money management. Explore multiple topics and complete missions to learn valuable skills.

Learn more: Misadventures in Money Management

Page from Lights, Camera, Budget!, a money management game for teens and tweens
Georgia Public Broadcasting

Lights, Camera, Budget!

Managing your own money can feel a little dull, so why not try your hand at managing a multimillion-dollar movie budget instead? This one has levels for both middle and high school students too.

Learn more: Lights, Camera, Budget!

Screen shot from Spent, a budgeting game meant to demonstrate what it's like to live on the financial edge


Living on the financial edge is a sad reality for so many people. Show kids what that can feel like with this online simulation. When the game starts, you have no housing and no job and just $1,000 in the bank. Can you get a job and make it to the end of the month?

Learn more: Spent

Screen shot from the Claim Your Future online game indicating your career is Real Estate Agent
Finance Authority of Maine

Claim Your Future

This cool online game assigns you a career (or lets you choose one) and tailors your experience to your location. You get to make choices about housing and other expenses, and the game calculates how those things fit into a responsible budget.

Learn more: Claim Your Future

Screenshot of an online budgeting game called The Biggest Bang For Your Buck, asking a question about financial literacy
We Are Teachers

The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

This online game guides kids through a shopping trip with financial literacy questions along the way. It’s simple but a terrific way to introduce a discussion on spending, saving, and budgeting.

Learn more: The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

To-Do List page from Influenc'd, a game about making a living as an influencer
Next Gen Personal Finance


For kids who are sure they can make enough money to live on with their social media accounts, this game might be a bit of a reality check.

Learn more: Influenc’d

Budgeting activities are just the start! Check out these life skills every teen should learn.

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