Cards, Cars and Currency Curriculum Unit

Teach credit cards, debit cards, and car loans with the “Cards, Cars, and Currency” curriculum unit.

Cards, Cars and Currency is a curriculum unit that challenges students to become involved in three specific areas of personal finance: credit cards, debit cards and purchasing a car.

The unit is divided into five lesson plans. The activities in each lesson plan are designed to address problem-solving, critical-thinking and higher levels of learning, using real-world scenarios. With a focus on responsibility for personal financial decisions, students will be able to identify the bottom line of financial decision making: income kept or lost.

All of the lessons are correlated with the national Personal Finance Standards and the National Standards in Economics. (See the Lesson Correlation section for more information.)

Complete Curriculum

Lesson One: Keep the Currency

Students participate in a discussion of the general features of a $1 bill. They learn that although currency is valued, people often "throw currency away" as a result of poor financial decision-making and the lack of financial knowledge. Following the discussion, the students play a game in which they attempt to "keep the currency," working in pairs to answer 20 true-or-false questions about credit cards, debit cards and purchasing a car. From this game, which serves as a pretest for subsequent lessons, the students learn that financial literacy is important in keeping currency.

Lesson Two: Credit Cards - A Package Deal

Students analyze the terms of credit cards and learn about using a credit card responsibly by completing a Credit Card Packet, which involves working in pairs to calculate the cost of credit by analyzing a disclosure statement and reviewing a record of purchases, a record of payments and credit card statements. After completing the Credit Card Packet, the class is divided into teams and given a real-world scenario to debate—the consumer vs. the credit card company. The students then conduct a survey as an out-of-class activity, gathering and interpreting data on credit card usage in their community. The students use an online calculator to determine the real cost of making just the minimum payment on credit card accounts.

Lesson Three: Banking on Debit Cards

After discussing basic information about debit cards, students work in pairs to balance a bank account statement and calculate the costs of using a debit card irresponsibly. The students then conduct a survey as an out-of-class activity, collecting and interpreting data on debit-card usage in their area. The students analyze the advantages and disadvantages of using credit cards and debit cards.

Lesson Four: The Car Deal Package

Using examples of three types of cars as a reference—an economy car, a moderately priced car and a luxury car—students learn about the decisions involved in purchasing a car. The students work in groups to compare different car deals, using three criteria: the income test, the down-payment option and the time option. The students analyze the terms of a sample car contract and consider the effects of signing the contract without understanding the terms. The students use an online calculator to collect information for responsible decision-making.

Lesson Five: A Penny Saved

Students read four scenarios involving take-home pay and fees that banks and creditcard companies charge, along with "what-if" alternatives for each scenario. Working in pairs, the students calculate the amount of currency that the characters in each scenario saved or lost as a result of their decision-making. The students play a second version of "Keep the Currency" from Lesson One. From this game, which serves as a post-test for the unit, the students learn that financial literacy is important in keeping currency—and that keeping (or saving) currency as a result of knowledge about finances can be the same as earning.



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