When Texas changed the Math TEKS several years ago, they began incorporating a strand called Personal Financial Literacy. I love how they are taking real life concepts that our children will face as growing teens and adults and are incorporating them into our state standards. However, I do wonder about the age-appropriateness of some of them….but alas, we teach the standards. 🙂
Today, I am sharing ideas that support the personal financial literacy standards for middle school.
6th Grade Personal Financial Literacy Standards
6.14 Personal financial literacy. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop an economic way of thinking and problem solving useful in one’s life as a knowledgeable consumer and investor. The student is expected to:
(A) compare the features and costs of a checking account and a debit card offered by different local financial institutions;
(B) distinguish between debit cards and credit cards;
(C) balance a check register that includes deposits, withdrawals, and transfers;
(D) explain why it is important to establish a positive credit history;
(E) describe the information in a credit report and how long it is retained;
(F) describe the value of credit reports to borrowers and to lenders;
(G) explain various methods to pay for college, including through savings, grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study; and
(H) compare the annual salary of several occupations requiring various levels of post-secondary education or vocational training and calculate the effects of the different annual salaries on lifetime income.”
7th Grade Personal Financial Literacy Standards
7.13 Personal financial literacy. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop an economic way of thinking and problem solving useful in one’s life as a knowledgeable consumer and investor. The student is expected to:
(A) calculate the sales tax for a given purchase and calculate income tax for earned wages;
(B) identify the components of a personal budget, including income; planned savings for college, retirement, and emergencies; taxes; and fixed and variable expenses, and calculate what percentage each category comprises of the total budget;
(C) create and organize a financial assets and liabilities record and construct a net worth statement;
(D) use a family budget estimator to determine the minimum household budget and average hourly wage needed for a family to meet its basic needs in the student’s city or another large city nearby;
(E) calculate and compare simple interest and compound interest earnings; and
(F) analyze and compare monetary incentives, including sales, rebates, and coupons.”
8th Grade Personal Financial Literacy Standards
8.12 Personal financial literacy. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop an economic way of thinking and problem solving useful in one’s life as a knowledgeable consumer and investor. The student is expected to:
(A) solve real-world problems comparing how interest rate and loan length affect the cost of credit;
(B) calculate the total cost of repaying a loan, including credit cards and easy access loans, under various rates of interest and over different periods using an online calculator;
(C) explain how small amounts of money invested regularly, including money saved for college and retirement, grow over time;
(D) calculate and compare simple interest and compound interest earnings;
(E) identify and explain the advantages and disadvantages of different payment methods;
(F) analyze situations to determine if they represent financially responsible decisions and identify the benefits of financial responsibility and the costs of financial irresponsibility; and
(G) estimate the cost of a two-year and four-year college education, including family contribution, and devise a periodic savings plan for accumulating the money needed to contribute to the total cost of attendance for at least the first year of college.”
Remember that while we do teach the standards, we can emphasize the most long-term concepts. While sixth grade calls for students to be able to explain the items on a credit report, we really want students to have a great understanding for what a credit report is and how short-term poor decisions can impact us for a long time. To me this is a great takeaway for a sixth grader!
Make It Relevant
There are some excellent college conversations that come from these standards. Specifically, the cost of college, the ways to pay for college, household budgets, and the difference in salaries of various positions over a lifetime.
- You could consider holding a “career fair” where students dress and act like a professional, sharing their salary and education requirements. Other students could visit the various tables and answer questions using the information given.
- Show real-life bills (water, electricity, cable, cell phone, rent/mortgage) and the various costs associated. Give students a finite amount and have them rank and justify the most important bills to pay.
- Have students take on the role of a student applying for college, give them specific details (or have them research if there is time), and then determine a game plan for paying for college.
When writing the units and really digging into the standards, I was blown away by the level of new concepts and terms that are introduced. Ask students to use the academic vocabulary, and spend a few minutes at the beginning of each class reviewing. To spice it up, you could do a quick fly swatter game, a quick Quizizz, or an inside-outside circle.
Overall, the think the biggest challenge is that while these terms are familiar to us as adults, they are foreign to students. Credit reports? Grants? Work-study?
- Grants are needs-based, while scholarships are needs- and merit-based
- Confusing total value with interest in the compound interest formula
- Confusing the terms “assets” and “liabilities” on a net worth statement
Anchor charts are fabulous ways to showcase the content in a visual manner for students to reference. They can easily be created before the lesson or as you are teaching, depending on the content.
Do you have any other great ideas for teaching the personal financial literacy standards? Be sure to check out these different concepts and activities that are included in my Personal Financial Literacy Units and Activity Bundles.