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Financial capability

Financial capability is highlighted in The New Zealand Curriculum as an example of the type of theme that schools could use for effective cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes.

Teaching ideas and tips

Find a range of teaching ideas to help you consider ways to integrate financial capability into your local curriculum. These activities develop specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the financial capability progressions. You can adapt these ideas to suit the needs, interests, and strengths of your students. 

Classroom shops
Junior school teachers could set up shops in their classrooms and encourage students to buy and sell goods using toy money. This activity helps students recognise money, add up the right amount of money, and carry out simple transactions.

Event planning
Involve students in budgeting for a school event to help them improve their financial capability. Students could help to plan the school disco, a whānau hui, school excursion or camp, or leavers' dinner. 

Fundraising project
Work with your students to plan and carry out a fundraising campaign to raise money for a special cause. Encourage students to keep a record of expenses and sales revenue so that they can calculate their profits.

Celebrate Money Week
Use Money Week as an opportunity to explore financial capability with your students, staff, and community. You could introduce Money Week to students at your school assembly and organise games and activities during the week. This Money Week event page is packed with ideas to help you get involved. 

Supermarket shopping homework
Encourage students to plan the family supermarket shopping for a week with a set budget that is appropriate for their family context. Students can discuss essential and non essential items with their families and use supermarket websites and flyers to create their shopping lists. 

Find the best price
Challenge your students to find the best prices for certain products by searching online. Emphasise the importance of buying products from reputable and reliable traders in this activity. Starter questions could include:

  • What is the best price for 1kg of oranges?
  • I need a heater for my bedroom. What heater options are available? Which are more energy efficient?
  • I need to buy a new laptop for school. What options are on the market? What features does each model offer? 
  • How do I know that a trader on a website is reliable? What checks can I do? 

Needs vs wants
Encourage your students to explore the spending patterns and attitudes of different people, including themselves. Help them to develop the understanding that people can view needs and wants in diverse ways. 

App challenge
Challenge your students to design an app to help young people manage their finances. The app could target any area of finance including goal setting, budgeting, saving, or loaning.

Money exhibition
Support your students to run a financial capability exhibition. Students can work in groups to create exhibits about an aspect of financial capability. Themes could include loan sharks, online shopping, flatting, KiwiSaver, property investment, and health insurance. Invite your parents, whānau and wider community to attend the event.

Make a healthy and economical school lunch 
Challenge your students to make a cheap and nutritious school lunch and share their knowledge with their families or younger children. The video below explains how students from Aorere College took part in a Lunches for Less programme and helped students at a neighbouring primary school make a healthy lunch for under $2 a day. 

Developing financial capability – a student perspective 

Financial-capability – Developing-financial-capability-a-student-perspective 

Words of wisdom 

Teachers share key success factors for embedding financial capability across their curriculum:


  • View financial capability as a context for learning areas, not an additional subject.
  • Try to integrate financial capability across as many learning areas as you can.

Strategic planning

  • Prepare and follow a financial capability action-plan framework that is regularly updated.
  • Enlist a group of teachers to form a financial capability committee with at least two passionate and motivated leaders.
  • Involve the local community as you develop a vision and a plan for financial capability.


  • Teacher's enthusiasm is the key to success.
  • Make lessons fun, hands-on, and real to life.
  • Keep the programme alive with plenty of inspiring and lively discussions.


  • Start small – if it can't be a whole school focus, try rolling it out class by class.
  • Hold regular staff meetings to encourage teacher reflection and involvement.
  • Collaborative planning keeps the task easier for everyone.
  • Working with a cluster of schools helps with ongoing support and ideas.

Published on: 03 Sep 2020