American Teenagers Rank Among the Lowest in Global Financial Literacy Rates

Aug 21, 2017

One study found that 70% of Americans are uncomfortable talking about money. And while studies suggest that millennials may be better at discussing dollars than their predecessors, our nation’s teenagers still lag behind most developed countries when it comes to their knowledge about money matters.

When evaluating financial literacy among thousands of 15-year olds in 14 countries, only 1 in 5 teenagers in the U.S. had basic-level skills about the principles of saving money. Students in other developed countries faired far better than Americans, including Russia, China and Poland.

 “Financial literacy is a key component to understanding general money management and credit basics, but a majority of American teens are not financially literate,” said Heather Battison, vice president at credit reporting company TransUnion.

“This is why its imperative for parents to have conversations with their teens about money in order to start a good foundation for financial literacy and help prepare teens for financial independence.”

Start 'em saving young.

Unfortunately not every child receives money lessons at home – which means financial literacy should be a key part of receiving an education.

At Washington Federal, cultivating, offering and taking part in financial literacy is a key component of the way we do business in our communities. One of the ways we do this is by offering our Save at School program to local communities.  

Photo Save at School Event

Save at School, offered at no cost to the school, students or taxpayers, allows kids to make deposits to a fee-free savings account right from the classroom.  

With parent permission, students are able to open a savings account right from their classroom. On the school’s “Bank Days,” students can bring in small deposits and thus learn the good fiscal habit of “thrift,” making regular contributions to a savings account.

Our colleagues are onsite to teach students how to use an account register and other banking basics, helping to lay the groundwork for financial success later on.

Want to bring saving lessons to your school?

Contact your local branch or email us at to find out how you can bring Save at School to your neighborhood school.

Saving money in Superstition Springs.

Recently our Superstition Springs team in Arizona brought money-matters lessons to nearby Liberty Arts Academy. Liberty Arts is a Title 1 school that provides a nurturing environment for learners that encourages high expectations for success through the use of technology, the arts and cooperative learning instruction. We even got to kick off the new school year at Meet the Teacher night, pictured below and above.
Photo of Financial Literacy Event