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Real Money, Real World: A Resource for High School Personal Finance Classes

This article was written by in Education. 5 comments.

Last year, I asked in high schools should require money management classes. My point of view is that such classes should be optional and/or lessons in personal finance can be incorporated into other classes throughout middle school and high school. Not everyone agrees with me, however, considering the state of financial distress many in this country face.

A commenter wrote in to describe his experience with a specific money management curriculum called Real Money, Real World, part of the Your Money NOW program sponsored by the Ohio Treasurer of State.

Schools can devote as little as 90 minutes or as much as a grading period to the program.

It works like this: Students get jobs and salaries based on their current GPA (the higher your GPA, the better paying job you get). Several booths are set-up with different signs relating life events. Students go to each to add children, housing, entertainment, cars, etc into their budget. At the end, they have to have a balanced budget.

I helped out at one of these events at my local high school and it was great to see these kids doing the math and complaining how much kids cost or how they can’t buy the clothes they want because their job doesn’t allow it.

The program sounds like a good start. I particularly like this resource: a description of the savings you could experience [pdf] by maintaining a credit score of 680 rather than 580.

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published March 18, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Emily

I love this idea. I have always wished they would teach personal finance in high school. It is apparent that parents cannot teach their children this, and even though I am pretty financially responsible at age 23, I could have greatly benifited from having greater knowledge at a younger age. This has to happen now! (Also, I know my grammer is not good but you made some critical word choice errors in your post, I would recomend editing it).

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avatar Adfecto

I agree that personal finance needs to be taught. However, I don’t know if traditional lecture style courses will get the job done. Your example of an interactive application of the concepts would provide more benefit, BUT if you go home every day to parents that are bad role models for your spending habits that is what will stick. Parents need to get their act together and show by example how to manage money. Then students can start to cover the numbers and the text book components of finance.

When I was in middle school I joined the Stock Market Club that was run by one of our assistant principals and that had a huge impact on my future interest in investing. I also learned the value of a dollar by starting a business when I was 11 to pay for special activities like going to Space Camp, Sea Base with Boy Scouts, and Europe with my High School.

All of this was the result of the positive influence of my parents.

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avatar Kyle

There’s an experimental school in South Chicago I wrote about not too long ago that teaches personal finance from first grade through 8th grade. They even give the students real money to invest with and let them make investment decisions from 6th-8th grade. I think it’s a great idea and the real-world investing experience at such a young age gives these kids an immeasurable head start in life.


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avatar Roman

I completely agree, in New York City they already have such programs incorporated into a students 4 years in high school. I remember that I took Intro to Management and Finance. That was about 7 years ago. It helped form a solid platform on which i continued to build in college. Other cities should allow these programs for their students.

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avatar wylerassociate

I echo everyone sentiment’s that personal finance needs to be taught in high school so these kids have an understanding as they enter the real world.

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