The students examine hypothetical companies that produce various goods made from wood. They discover that some companies do better than others at producing goods that people want to buy. The companies that produce goods that people want to buy at prices high enough for the producer to be profitable will be successful.
This lesson builds on Lesson 1, introducing students to points 3 and 4 of The Economic Way of Thinking: People must make choices, and Every choice involves a cost. In activities related to these points, the students practice using the PACED decision-making process.
The students are introduced to the final two principles of the economic way of thinking: People's choices have consequences, and People respond to incentives.
Against a background of information about the relationship between educational attainment, employment, and income levels, the students weigh decisions about education in light of costs and benefits.
The lesson focuses on a deliberate approach to making career choices. The students examine statistics projecting future demand for workers in various occupations. They complete a self-assessment to identify career pathways that match their interests and abilities. After examining a number of job descriptions, they compare each job's requirements to the skills recommended by SCANS (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills). Finally, they consider entrepreneurship as a career option.
The students examine ways to develop their human capital. They discover that they make themselves more productive by developing their human capital and by using capital resources, the tools of their trade. As they become more productive, they become more valuable to employers. As they become more valuable to employers, they gain earning power, thus improving their standard of living.
Although most middle school and junior high students do not hold full-time jobs, many of them have money to spend, often from an allowance or a part-time job. As a group, they have discretionary income that totals, by some estimates, billions of dollars a year. Yet, while teens tend to be prolific consumers, most do not have a plan, or budget, for sensible spending and saving. This lesson challenges students to create a reasonable spending plan based on an appropriate allocation of income in a number of categories, such as clothing, entertainment, and food.
The students learn the fundamentals of maintaining a checking account. They examine electronic banking methods, the writing of checks, and using a check register. They examine the features and costs of checking accounts, in preparation for the time when they acquire checking accounts of their own.
This lesson focuses on taxes and the uses governments make of tax revenue. Tax revenue pays for public goods and services: roads, schools, court houses, police and fire protection, parks, national defense, and so on. Taxes are also used to fund transfer payments to people who receive Social Security, Medicare, disability, food stamp, and other benefits.
The students learn about saving and investing, and they consider the importance of setting short-term, medium-term, and long-term savings goals. They use math skills to solve problems and they play a game designed to emphasize the importance of setting goals and working toward a goal. Finally, they engage in a family activity that focuses on the opportunity cost of saving.
The students learn how financial intermediaries foster exchanges between savers and borrowers. They learn how savers and borrowers benefit from these exchanges; they also learn about the opportunity costs of saving and borrowing.
The students learn about various types of government-insured savings instruments, noting the advantages and disadvantages of each. They learn that savings and investment instruments carry various types of risk, including inflation risk, interest rate risk, and financial risk. They also learn that risk must be measured against reward.
The students discover that three factors affect how money grows in savings accounts: the amount deposited, the interest rate, and the length of time the money is held on deposit. Students calculate interest and formulate a generalization about the difference between simple and compound interest.
The students learn about stocks: how stocks are issued, different levels of risk, and differences in possible returns. In studying risk, the students also learn about mutual funds and diversification.
Most students are aware of the variety of payment options available to consumers. Cash, checks, debit cards, and credit cards are often used by their parents; however, the students probably do not understand the implications of each. This lesson examines the advantages and disadvantages of various payment methods and focuses especially on using credit. The students are challenged to calculate the cost of credit, compare credit card agreements, and analyze case studies
Lenders are in business to grant loans to individuals and businesses. However, the applicant's ability to repay a loan can mean the difference between profit and loss for the lender. To reduce risk, the lender assesses the applicant's creditworthiness by reviewing his or her character, capacity for repayment and collateral. They also pay particular interest to the applicant's credit score. In this lesson, the students work through exercises to assess the three "Cs" of several loan applications. They discover how they can establish a credit record, and they learn about the rights and responsibilities they have as borrowers.
The students identify costs and benefits of comparison shopping. They learn about a seven step approach that can help consumers make well-informed choices, and they practice using it. They also learn to avoid certain mistakes that consumers often make.