I’m a cheater, and I’m going to paste in my response I gave to mrsprester’s question about the top 5 essential topics. Here they are, in my humble opinion:
1). Budgeting, because it’s essential and kind of fun (am I sick?).
2). Checking, because it’s the foundation for TONS of other transactions.
3). Credit, because it’s the easiest place to REALLY screw yourself up, and it can take forever to fix once you let it happen.
4). Student loans, because how you pay for college has consequences that can last 25 YEARS…
5). Investing — this is my new pet passion. With the gap in net wealth in this country getting huger by the day, I feel it’s a social justice issue that ALL young people learn how investing works. If you live in a community where “investing is something OTHER people do…” and no one teaches you the importance of a 401(k) or other retirement fund. EEEK. Even though you can’t teach EVERYTHING about investing in the scope of a high school class, at least if students become familiarized with the lingo and some basic strategies, they’ll feel a little more at home in the “investment world.”
I hope that helps!