Are schools preparing our students for the real world? Many students graduate high school and know how to write a sonnet, solve a quadratic equation, and recite all the presidents in order. Yet, they’ve never applied for a job, never earned and managed their own money, and still think taxes and loans are something their parents deal with. If earning, managing, and saving money are the keys to “adulting,” then why aren’t real-world money skills taught in high school? After all, money mistakes can have significant lasting consequences, and we don’t want our students to find themselves on their own with crippling credit card debt and overdrawn bank accounts.
The good news: we can teach our students real-world money skills now with tools adults actually use. That’s why we love these activities from the Teacher Toolkits our friends at Intuit created.
Students Use Mint To Learn Money Management Skills
Mint is a financial tool that millions of people use to manage their money (I don’t know what I would do without it!). First, your students will log into a Mint account where they will meet Isiah, a fictional character who is 20 years old, works full time, has a credit card, and isn’t on top of his budget. Next, they will use Isiah’s Mint account to analyze his financial health and how the choices he makes are helping (or harming him). We love how students are able to see the impact of someone’s financial choices (and mistakes) without bearing the brunt of the consequences. Here’s what else your students will do:
1. Compare Savings Accounts
Students might be shocked to learn that 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. This activity teaches students the importance of an emergency fund for unexpected expenses like car repairs. Students will learn the important lesson of saving 10% of their income each month.
2. Evaluate Credit Card Offers
What does it mean when your credit card has a high interest rate? This is just one of the questions that students will tackle in this activity. Students will explore different credit card options and current interest rates to figure out which offer is the best.
3. Analyze a Credit Report & Score
When students look at Isaiah’s credit score and report, they will evaluate the choices he’s made and see the impact late payments and a high credit card balance have on a credit score. We love how the takeaways here are to lower your overall balance and make payments on time.
4. Budget for Income and Expenses
In this activity, students will look at Isaiah’s spending. First, they will analyze data, including the cost of rent, transportation, food/dining, bills/utilities, education, health, shopping, and entertainment. Then, students will look for trends, and finally, use Mint to create Isaiah’s budget.
Looking for more? Next, you can teach students all about taxes with another activity.
Students Use TurboTax To Learn To Learn All About Taxes
I don’t know an adult who doesn’t dread filing their taxes. Complicated forms. So many documents. And it’s easy to make mistakes. This is why tools like TurboTax are so helpful: they demystify the process. Your high school students can learn how to file taxes using an educational version of TurboTax. It’s easy to get started. You create an account and have five different fictional W2s for students to choose from.
You don’t have to spend hours on these activities. Most of them take less than an hour, and they can all be done in person or remotely. Whatever subject you teach, students can learn to think critically, solve problems, and learn how to “adult” using real-world money skills and tools. Students won’t ask, “when am I ever going to use this in real life?” and if they do, you can just pull up your Mint app on your phone and show them. We use this stuff every day!
What Teachers Are Saying
“Using Mint and TurboTax in the classroom has been incredible. By using these simulations, my students are engaged in hands-on learning using real financial tools. They are able to take what they have learned and apply it to real-world scenarios. As a teacher, it is exciting to see students equipped and confident to manage their own personal finances. It is rewarding to know that I am preparing them for their future.” —Dave Cook, high school teacher.