5 ways to improve financial literacy for teens

Teenagers shopping
Teenage girls take a break from Christmas shopping at a shopping mall on December 8, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry/Getty Images

American teens receive poor scores when it comes to financial literacy.

When an economic development group measured where in the world teens knew the most about money, America fell below average -- behind countries like Belgium, Estonia, Australia and China.

Kelli Grant, personal finance and consumer spending reporter for CNBC joined The Daily Circuit to talk about these trends.

Only a handful of states mandate financial education prior to high school graduation, she said. U.S. schools should be doing more to provide financial education.

But even without teachers' advice, there are still many ways for teens to expand their financial knowledge. Here are some suggestions from Grant and our listeners.

5 ways for teens to improve their financial literacy:

  1. Get a bank account and debit card. When it comes to managing money, there's always a learning curve. The only way to learn is to practice, and a bank account with a low balance and minimal fees is a low-stakes way to get started. Survey results show that teens with bank accounts are more likely to have higher financial literacy scores.

  2. Set a monthly budget that includes costs for services you use - even if a parent pays. Many teens are surprised by the cost of cell phone, television and internet bills. It's helpful to get a sense of regular bill-paying early in life to set an expectation for budgeting later on.

  3. Find a personal finance website or app that works for you. Some recommendations include: You Need a Budget, Mint and Oink.

  4. Start saving now. For teens, expenses are often low. This is an opportunity to beef up your savings while you can, Grant said. Think about expenses you'll have in college - like textbooks or travel - or any bigger goals you have.

  5. Get a job. Teens who work often have a better grasp on budgeting and spending within their means.

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