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Money Education for 8th Graders

Here are the financial principles and money lesson plans for 8th grade students that you should be teaching!


Eighth grade is a time of transition and change, and it is essential that teachers instill practical financial literacy habits during this year. These students are no longer little kids but not quite adults, yet they’re fully capable of learning productive money lessons for life. According to the National Standards for Personal Financial Education, teachers of 8th-grade students should focus on six primary topics, including earning income, spending, saving, investing, managing credit, and managing risk. By covering these topics with your students, you can give them a rich and balanced foundation to jump into high school-level material. Let’s take a deeper dive into what 8th graders should learn, how to teach these topics, and the lesson plans to make it happen!

National Standards for Personal Finance Education

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Earning Income

Students learn how to earn wages by working and other ways to bring in money: interest, investment, entrepreneurship, rent, and dividends. You also explain the value of additional benefits like retirement and health insurance and how more training and specialization often lead to higher salaries. Learners should understand the Social Security system we have in place, including who benefits from it, how it works, and various tax rates for different participants in the system.

As you teach these topics, you can:

  • Go in-depth in comparing careers and how they pay (salaries, commissions, tips, etc.).
  • Using online resources, students can research various ways to enter careers, such as training and education, and the associated costs.
  • Learners can gather data on various jobs, the salary they pay, the pros and cons of post-secondary education for career growth, and the impact of taxes on their paychecks.
  • Complete interest surveys to discover student strengths and challenges, giving them a place to determine possible career choices. They may find out they like solving problems, working outside, being their own boss, or tapping into their artistic talents, to find a suitable job for the future.
  • List the many ways to earn income, including “side hustles,” jobs through high school programs, and money-making opportunities online and working remotely.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #1

Earning Income

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This topic is naturally appealing to 8th graders and gives you – the teacher or homeschooler – an exceptionally engaging platform. Kids should know there are ways to strategically spend their money, looking at prices, values of goods, savings opportunities, and donating to charity. Budgets are an essential sub-topic of this unit, and students should learn how to effectively create one, whether weekly, monthly, or annually. You can go over how two people with the same salary can spend their money in vastly different ways, and highlight strategies to monitor and analyze their expenses and how they use their income.

As you decide how to teach the topic of spending, you’ll see many approaches, such as:

  • Use online reviews and websites to determine the accurate value and quality levels of various products, helping them decide which purchases are wise.
  • Create budgets using hypothetical salaries found online, figuring out how much they could spend monthly in various categories, and see if they need to readjust their career goals.
  • Balance their budgets between essential and non-essential items, giving to charities, and contributing to savings. Make a worksheet showing all the expenses in a given period and have students see what is necessary or not.
  • Look closely at advertising. Explain the tactics companies use to get you to buy their products, showing them that knowledge is power when it comes to their spending, as they can decide whether a specific product is a good buy or not.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #2

Spending Money


Teachers can show students there are multiple ways to save money. You can explain the idea of checking and savings accounts, along with typical interest rates, FDIC protections on those accounts, and ways to access their money. You can cover other savings vehicles, including CDs, money market accounts, and online accounts. Going back to their budgets, students can determine how much to save, savings goals, and add to emergency funds.

There are many resources available to teachers, allowing your students to:

  • Decide how much to save based on personal preference and individual goals.
  • Discover the magic of compound interest and which types of savings accounts can help students reach their objectives.
  • See different financial institutions and their role as both lenders and savings vehicles.
  • Create a savings plan for major purchases, using various timelines and purchase prices.
  • Go over the importance of federal deposit insurance. You can compare today’s protections to historical events in which savers’ money was not protected.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #3

Saving Money


Investing is very similar to the topic of Savings, but there are distinctions between the two. 8th-grade students should learn the many ways they can invest their money as they begin earning income. Investments come in a wide variety of styles, including retirement, real estate, the stock market, and college savings accounts. You should cover dividend reinvestment, stocks vs. bonds, liquidity of different investments, and the risks and rewards of different investment categories. In this unit, you can further students’ understanding of compounding, showing them how much they can earn by investing at a younger age instead of waiting until they are older.

There are several ways to deliver investing instruction, including providing students the opportunity to:

  • Analyze the performance of the stock market over long-term and short-term periods.
  • Delve into the idea of risk, showing learners that you can make more money with higher risk but also lose value much more rapidly.
  • Complete a stock-picking project, creating a hypothetical portfolio they can track and understand its performance.
  • Show the importance of diversification, giving real-life examples of putting too much emphasis on one asset class while describing the relative safety of spreading your investments out over multiple areas.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #4

Investing Money

Managing Credit

The topic of credit is complex and nuanced, and is critical for your 8th-grade students to learn. How they manage credit can significantly affect the quality of their lives in the future, and covering this area is vital for teachers. You will want to explain how credit scores and credit reports work, how and why interest rates fluctuate based on the market and individual’s histories, and the impact of these numbers on how much extra you pay in interest. You can get into how credit can be an asset (lower rates on purchasing cars and homes) or hamper your financial growth (high interest rates on credit cards).

There are many real-life applications available to teachers who cover the topic of managing credit. You can use them to:

  • Compare types of lenders, showing students the different rates, fees, and conditions of each.
  • Explore the notion of introductory rates, explaining that these percentages can increase drastically after the initial period is over.
  • Calculate the total costs of loans by looking at interest rates, the length of the loan, and the impact of your credit score on the interest rate.
  • Look into credit reports. How and why do credit scores change month to month, and what can people do to improve their scores over time?
  • Have students look at housing and higher education loans, determining if these avenues are beneficial uses of their income and credit in the future.
  • Examine the impact debt has on your credit and how to dig your way out of the negative trap that debt can produce.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #5

Managing Credit

Managing Risk

Risk is a part of life and comes in many forms that affect all aspects of people’s experiences. Teachers can show students how insurance helps protect them from risks, such as personal finances from devastating losses. Educators can dive into the various types of insurance, including health, auto, and home, among others, giving students an idea of how the systems work to protect you from major impacts. You can explain the many ways things can turn suddenly and unexpectedly and how having specific forms of insurance can help. Teachers can also touch on the idea of other risks like identity theft.

You can approach the subject of managing risk from many angles. Some of the ways that teachers can tackle the topic include:

  • Discuss how planning in advance can be an enormous advantage, saving substantial amounts of money and lowering stress in many circumstances.
  • Research why different customers receive varying quotes for their premiums. Risk factors such as age, geographic location, and prior records come into play when insurance companies set their premiums.
  • Teach the primary insurance terminologies that students should know. By understanding the basic vocabulary of the insurance industry, students can be better equipped to manage their policies and understand what impacts their costs.
  • Explain the many forms of identity theft and how criminals commit these intrusions. Show students how to protect themselves and their critical information from thieves.
  • Use real-world examples of extended warranties to show their value, whether they are worth it for certain products like cell phones, computers, and automobiles.
8th Grade Lesson Plan #6

Managing Risk

More Resources for 8th Grade Teachers

About the Author

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is a National Board Certified teacher with over two decades of experience in the classroom. He loves working with students of all ages in many subjects, but particularly in practical areas like money education, to help kids achieve their goals. When he is not teaching or writing about financial literacy, you can find him surfing, hiking, skiing, or traveling to new places.

Last updated on: May 28, 2024