It's Your Paycheck! Curriculum Unit

It's Your Paycheck! is designed for use in high school personal finance classes. The curriculum includes 9 lessons. The lessons employ various teaching strategies to engage students so that they have opportunities to apply the concepts being taught. Each lesson includes the handouts and visuals needed to teach the lesson.

All of the lessons are correlated with the National Standards for Financial Literacy Education and the National Standards in Economics.

Each lesson is accompanied by a PowerPoint slide deck that contains visuals and handouts (whenever practical), along with definitions of terms and review questions.

Lesson 1: Invest in Yourself

Students are divided into groups to produce name tents. Each of four groups in the classroom produce name tents in a different way to highlight different levels of human capital. The students identify ways in which people invest in human capital and the link between investment in human capital and earning income.

Lesson 2: "W" Is for Wages, W4, and W2

Students compute the gross pay for a fictional John Dough given his hourly wage and the number of hours worked. They compare gross pay to net pay. They learn what FICA and federal income taxes are. They learn how to complete a W-4 form and what a W-2 form is.

Lesson 3: Cash the Check and Track the Dough

Students participate in an activity to learn about checking accounts, savings accounts and check-cashing services. Students learn the components of a check, and they organize and enter information into an account register for a fictitious person in order to determine the person's balance. Students learn why maintaining account records is important. Students balance a monthly account statement.

Lesson 4: Your Budget Plan

Students work in pairs to participate in a "Track Star" game that illustrates positive and negative spending behaviors. Each pair of students analyzes the "Track Star" results, identifies effective and ineffective budgeting behaviors, and generates a list of budgeting principles.

Lesson 5: Savvy Savers

Students calculate compound interest to identify benefits of saving in interest-bearing accounts. They learn the "rule of 72" and apply it to both investments and debt. They learn that there is a relationship between the level of risk for an investment and the potential reward or return on that investment.

Lesson 6: Credit History, Credit Reports, and Credit Scores

Students complete an activity sheet and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using credit. Students read a scenario about a young person's use of a credit card and answer some questions regarding repayment. Students learn about credit history, credit reports and credit-reporting agencies.

Lesson 7: Creditors' Criteria and Borrowers' Rights and Responsibilities

Students discuss key terms related to credit and learn how creditors use capacity, character and collateral as criteria for making loans. Students learn about credit rights and responsibilities. Groups use role-play scenarios in order to identify and discuss the rights and responsibilities of using credit.

Lesson 8: How Much Are You Really Paying for that Loan?

Students learn what a payday loan is and the high cost involved in using such a loan. Working in groups, students calculate an annual percentage rate (APR) on a short-term loan.

Lesson 9: To Rent-to-Own or Not to Rent-to-Own?

Students review the elements of a contract. They discuss the characteristics of rent-to-own contracts and compare the cost of those contracts with the outright purchase of goods.


NAEE Gold Badge

This lesson received the 2015 Curriculum Gold Award from the National Association of Economic Educators.
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