The teaching curriculum consists of fourteen lesson plans designed to augment a semester course in life skills, consumer awareness, and financial management. The Teacher’s Guide, compiled in a separate, easy-to-use notebook, includes an outline of the curriculum:
Each day, we are faced with many decisions. While most decisions are simple, such as “what should I wear?” or “what should I eat?,” others are more complex, such as “should I buy a new or used car?” As decision-making skills are used and improved, a person’s quality of life is enhanced. Wiser choices result in better use of time, money, and other resources. This introductory lesson provides students with an opportunity to learn more about decision-making. The lesson starts with an overview of the decision-making process followed by a discussion of various internal and external factors that affect decisions.
Building your career is one of the surest ways to increase income and make money. When planning for the future, one of the most critical financial decisions is determining your career path. In this lesson, students will be encouraged to consider various topics related to career planning and the financial aspects of employment. This variation of the decision-making process can help a person match personal abilities and interests with appropriate employment opportunities.
A personal budget is a financial plan that allocates future income toward expenses, savings, and debt repayment. “Where does the money go?” is a common dilemma faced by many individuals and households when it comes to budgeting and money management. Effective money management starts with a goal and a step-by-step plan for saving and spending. Financial goals should be realistic, be specific, have a timeframe, and imply an action to be taken. This lesson will encourage students to take the time and effort to develop their own personal financial goals and budget.
As young people grow up, a common goal is to live on their own. However, the challenges of independent living are often quite different from their expectations. This lesson provides a reality check for students as they investigate the costs associated with moving, obtaining furniture and appliances, and renting an apartment.
For many, buying a home is the single most important financial decision they will make in their lifetime. However, the process of becoming a first-time homebuyer can be overwhelming, and requires a foundation for basic home-buying knowledge. This lesson will provide students with information on buying a home and where and how to begin the process. After comparing the differences between renting and buying, students will be introduced to a five-step process for home buying. This framework provides an overview for the activities involved with selecting and purchasing a home.
If the fee for an ATM transaction to withdraw money is $1 and a person withdraws money twice a week, the banking fees for that person will be $104 a year. Over a five-year period, those fees invested at five percent would grow to more than $570. Most students know that banks and other financial institutions (credit unions, savings and loan associations) offer a variety of services. However, few people know how to make wise choices when using financial services. In this lesson, students will learn about the different types of financial service products available and the features of each.
In today’s world, credit is integrated into everyday life. From renting a car to reserving an airline ticket or hotel room, credit cards have become a necessary convenience. However, using credit wisely is critical to building a solid credit history and maintaining fiscal fitness. While most students have a general idea about the advantages and disadvantages of credit, this lesson provides an opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail.
What is APR? What is a grace period? What are transaction fees? These and other questions will be answered in this lesson as students learn about credit cards, and the different types of cards available and features of each, such as bank cards, store cards, and travel and entertainment cards.
As students start to shop for their first (or next) credit card, this lesson will make them aware of various costs and features. Included in this section is a discussion of the methods for calculating finance charges. Various federal laws protect our rights as we apply for and use credit cards, such as procedures for disputes and protection from card theft and fraud. In this lesson, students will also be given an opportunity to analyze the information contained on a credit card statement.
“Should I buy a new car or a used car?” “Where is the best place to finance my automobile purchase?” “Is it better to take the rebate or the low-rate financing plan?” These are typical questions asked by people buying vehicles. In this lesson, students are asked to identify costs associated with owning and operating a motor vehicle. Since these costs are commonly underestimated, guidelines are provided on how much to spend when buying vehicles.
In today’s modern world, advertising seems to be everywhere we look; online, television, billboards, magazines, newspapers, on buses, grocery carts, even cell phones. In addition, some forms of advertising can be subliminal, such as the strategically-placed soda can in a movie. We can’t help but be influenced and manipulated as consumers. In this lesson, students will become aware of the various techniques and appeals used to influence consumer behavior.
Decisions, decisions. With so many choices available to us, how can we be sure we’re making the right decision? Wise consumer buying starts with a plan. Using a systematic purchasing strategy will provide students with an ability to make more effective purchases. Comparative shopping techniques will be discussed to encourage students to carefully consider price, product attributes, warranties, and store policies. Next, this lesson covers a variety of buying methods, such as buying clubs, shopping by phone, catalogs, online, and door-to-door selling.
Saving just 35 cents a day will result in more than $125 in a year. Small amounts saved and invested can easily grow into larger sums. However, a person must start to save. This lesson provides students with a basic knowledge of saving and investing. The process starts with setting financial goals. Next, a commitment to saving is discussed.
The material in this lesson will help students become aware of the warning signs of financial difficulties. This lesson includes information on where to go for debt consolidation help and for nonprofit credit counseling.
In today’s information age, keeping your personal financial information private can be challenging. What you put on an application for a loan, your payment history, where you make purchases, and your account balances are but a few of the financial records that can be sold to third parties and other organizations. This lesson will discuss how public and private records are accessed and used by various organizations, as well as review privacy laws to protect your information.
In an effort to give you the most up-to-date information for teaching and making personal financial decisions, we’ve compiled the following lists of periodicals and organizations that can enhance your use of Practical Money Skills for Life.