Foundations of Financial Well-Being: Insights into the Role of Executive Function, Financial Socialization, and Experience-Based Learning in Childhood and Youth
During childhood and youth we build the foundations for financial well-being later in life, acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and personality traits that enable us to manage our finances as adults. This article reviews literature from consumer science, developmental psychology, and allied fields to gain insight into moments during youthful development when interventions are likely to have greatest impact. We find promising avenues for influence during each developmental life stage. Many present truly novel approaches to financial education—such as focusing on improving executive function in young children (critical despite lacking apparent “financial content”), emphasizing financial attitude development through dual-generation financial modeling for elementary and middle school students and their parents, or intentionally teaching financial heuristics and other practical skills to later adolescents and young adults. Overall, this article proposes a range of innovative strategies to improve financial education, from early childhood through young adulthood.