University of California

Teen financial literacy evaluated to develop outreach materials


Karen Varcoe
Shirley Peterson
Charles Go
Margaret Johns
Paula René-Fitch
Carol Powell
Connie Costello

Authors Affiliations

K. Varcoe is Consumer Education Specialist and Program Leader, Human Resources, UC Riverside; S. Peterson is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Science (NFCS) Advisor and County Director, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), San Luis Obispo County; C. Go is Youth Development Advisor, UCCE Alameda County; M. Johns is NFCS Advisor, UCCE Kern County; P. René-Fitch is NFCS Advisor, UCCE Imperial County; C. Powell is NFCS Advisor, UCCE Santa Barbara County; C. Costello is Program Representative, UC Riverside. The authors wish to thank the UCCE Workgroup and Chase Manhattan Foundation for funding our work.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 56(2):65-68. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n02p65. March 2002.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


Teenagers have access to and spend a great deal of money each year, yet research indicates that their financial literacy is low. Many curricula for teaching money management exist, but we do not know if we are teaching teens what they want to know in a way that they want to learn. This study, conducted by the Money 2000+ for Teens Workgroup of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, sought to find out what teens want to know about financial management. Questionnaires were administered to 323 teens from five diverse groups: teens who were in juvenile hall or on probation, in public high schools, migrant education programs, pregnancy and parenting classes, and youth groups. The data were used to develop educational materials with “teen appeal,” which are currently being evaluated for eventual distribution nationally.


Alhabeeb MJ. Teenagers' money, discretionary spending and saving. Fin Counsel Plan. 1996. 7:123-32.

American Savings Education Council. Two-thirds of American students say they need to know more about money management. News release 1999. April25 www.asec.org

Danes S, Huddleston-Casas C, Boyce L. An evaluation of a financial planning curriculum for teens. Proc Assoc Financial Counseling Planning Ed 1997. pp.33-44.

Jump$tart Coalition. High school seniors lack financial smarts, shows survey. News release 1997. May22 www.jumpstartcoalition.org

Jump$tart Coalition. Financial literacy declining among 12th graders. News release 2000. April6 www.jumpstartcoalition.org

Sivy M. Credit card debt could be the plastic explosive that blasts the economy in '97. Money. 1997. 26:180-

Stanger T. Future debtors of America. Cons Rep. 1997. 62:16-9.

Teenage Research Unlimited. Teens spend $155 billion in 2000. News release 2001. Jan25 www.teenresearch.com

Wang P. Helping your kids become financially independent. Money. 1993. 22:72-8.

Varcoe K, Peterson S, Go C, Johns M, René-Fitch P, Powell C, Costello C. 2002. Teen financial literacy evaluated to develop outreach materials. Hilgardia 56(2):65-68. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n02p65
Webmaster Email: sjosterman@ucanr.edu