As we begin the end of the school year, many of us are trying to fit in those final lessons, AP tests and even doing some outlines for next year’s classes. I’m here with a great lesson that worked very well with my Consumer Education students the past two years that I have gradually improved on each semester. This lesson asks the classic question after leaving school and of course working: “Rent vs. Own”.
I save this project for the end of the semester, so my students can build on all the tools and consumer protection rights and how to get an interview we have learned over the semester. This project starts with a HyperDoc on searching and trying to find a vehicle. I have finally found a great template that is used by NGPF. It allows students to review at their own pace what they should look for when purchasing or leasing a vehicle of any kind (I had a student who invested in a Segway once). I tie the lesson in with Pear Deck, so students can interact and answer questions at their own rate. After that, they search for three types of cars: one new, one used and one of their choice. They then plug in the data they have discovered over two scenarios depending on what type of car they want to go with.
Please note to make sure your school’s internet does not filter any of the car searches and have an alternative ready to go such as Kelly Blue Book or Carfax.
After they have turned in the first HyperDoc, they do the same with a House/Apartment HyperDoc. Now, the twist is, I have students use Google Maps after they have found a home using the Street View to search out the neighborhood. I had one student who really loved the area they were looking at and another who questioned the area. This is a great way to do more background research on a possible future home. One student loved a small house in the middle of nowhere but wondered why the property tax was so high, until they used Street View to see they were by a major lake area and could face busy traffic during the summer or during ice fishing season.
From there students use bls.gov Occupational Handbook to allows them to search into a career they are intending or thinking about going into. This website is a gold mine for understanding career financial breakdowns and allows students to really come up with a real life budget for them to live on. After they have done their research, they are given an interactive budget sheet they have to balance with their current salaries they might have one day. I give them standard fix costs they cannot change like: utilities, savings, ect. If they end up in the red after putting in their vehicle, home, ect. They have to make cuts where they are allowed to and if they still can’t balance, they might have to go with a more cost effective vehicle or home. Once they have balanced their monthly budget, they turn it in.
I love this assignment because there is no one right answer outside: “Can you live off of this.” As we know we all live on what we can afford and live inside our means and know our needs verses our wants. This assignment is a great way to teach student this and all the templates I have linked, you can tailor to your curriculum or classroom. There is a great way to use this to teach middle school students how to use their spending when they have their first job or teach upper elementary just where their parent/guardians expenses go. Give it a try today.