Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, part 4

Credit card offers start filling the mailbox long before a student graduates college.

We discussed credit cards and how to use them this week.

While I believe in living debt-free, I am not a 'cash only, no credit cards ever' kind of person.

A credit card can be used wisely and to your advantage.

We defined and discussed in class many of the terms you will see on a credit card agreement:

Annual Fee
Annual Percentage Rate
Credit Line
Credit Rating
Grace Period
Introductory Rate
Minimum Payment
Overdraft Protection 

If you have a credit card with cash back or other perks and pay the balance in full every month, the card works to your advantage.

I gave an example of how much you would pay for something if you just paid the minimum balance on the card every month to demonstrate the pitfalls of credit.

We compared the advantages of using a credit card vs. a debit card.  I personally do not like to use a debit card because there is no disputing a charge (or the money is not available while you are disputing) or if you reserve a hotel with a debit card, the full charge is held on your account.

One way for a student to learn to use a credit card wisely is to put a small limit on the card.  Start with a $100 limit and learn to pay it off every time you use it. 

Even if a student never plans to use a credit card, it is a good idea to have one in case of emergencies.

After the credit card discussion, students were given a credit card comparison sheet that I found online.  The comparison sheet listed the name of the card, the APR, rewards, annual fee, and bonuses.

Students were required to compare cards and choose the one they thought would be best to use.  

During the week I looked at the students' job search information to award them a job.  Some students were able to find many job postings, but some did not find many at all.  This helped the class see how an in-demand degree helps in getting hired after college.

Marriage Lottery-4 more students were randomly matched this week to 'get married' and collaborate on their homework.

Homework for the week: Make a monthly budget using the provided budget sheet.  Using the internet, find housing that you can afford located in a place you would live.

For the budget, students had to assume that 25% of their paycheck went toward taxes and with holdings (welcome to the real world!).  I recommended that they budget 25% (or less) for rent.  Student loan payments had to be included in the budget as well as utilities, phone, gas/public transportation, food, etc.  'Couples' were required to budget together.  Newly formed couples had to decide who would move if they didn't have jobs in close proximity.

If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can find them here:
 Welcome to the Real World
Welcome to the Real World, part 2
Welcome to the Real World, part 3

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, part 3

What college will you attend and how will you pay for it? 

That is the question students addressed the third week of class.  

Students were required to list three college/trade school choices for their career choice and research the cost and possible scholarships/grants/loans.

For this part of the class, students had the important discussion with their parents about who is paying for my college.  Some students had not really given this much thought.

Are parents planning to help with anything?
Do parents have a college savings plan for the student?
Does the student have savings for education?
Is the parent military or retired military?

After researching schools and costs, students filled out a worksheet listing the total cost, minus the total savings, expected scholarships and grants to get a balance owed.  They applied any expected job earnings to this balance and then had to figure in a student loan to finish paying for their education.

What can students do to avoid borrowing as much as possible?

Put in some time and effort up front.  Fill out as many scholarship applications as you can.  Work a part-time job and save as much as you can.
You do not have to borrow as much money as financial aid will lend you.  Only borrow what is absolutely necessary or you might end up paying $4000 for a $10 pizza by the time you repay the loan.

How much debt is too much?
Total student loan should not exceed starting salary and ideally should be quite a bit less.

I spent the week verifying the costs of the colleges listed as well as any scholarships or grants they expected to receive.  Some students think they are going to receive much more than they actually will.  Some students receive more in grant funding than they expect.  

At the end of this exercise, I gave each student a 'scenario' for their education based on the homework they did.  They were given a paper that told them what degree they received from which school as well as their loan debt.  The highest loan debt in my class of 10 students was over $100,000 for a law degree.  My class (not by design) lined up with the national average of students graduating debt free.

With degree in hand, the students were now tasked with finding an entry level job in their field.  They were required to find a job listing and send me the link (for verification) for 3 jobs they qualified for that was in a location they were willing to live. 

Wedding Lottery- this is where the fun really begins!  Every student's name was put into a drawing to get 'married'.  I chose one male and one female to be a married couple and now make joint decisions.  The teamwork involved added a new dimension to their 'real world'.

Part IV: the results of the job search

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to a co-op class I taught to high school students- 'Welcome to the Real World'.

The second lesson for the students was purchasing a car.

I introduced this lesson by asking the students, "What is the purpose of a vehicle?"

I had some savvy students, so they knew the answer I was looking for (to get you where you are going), even though some gave the answer that the car companies want us to believe:  to look cool, for prestige.

We discussed the advantages of buying a used car for cash rather than buying a new car with a loan.  

I touched briefly on loans and interest, as well as the total cost of the car with interest.  Loans and debt is a topic we discussed several different times over the semester.

We also talked about insurance requirements and the cost of insurance.  When you own the car, you are only required to have liability insurance therefore saving money.

I printed some 'play' money and each student randomly received $3000, $4000, or $5000 to purchase a vehicle.

The homework requirement was: 
1.  Decide if you are going to buy with cash or get a loan

2.  Find  3 vehicles you can afford with your 'cash'

3.  On a chart, fill in the details about the car

4.  Find out how much insurance will cost per year, factor that into the total cost of the vehicle

After doing the research, students chose the car they could afford and turned in that information the next week.

car comparison lesson
If you are doing this project at home with your student, you could have your student call about the car and actually go see it and drive it.  Many used cars listed on Craigslist (or similar sites) are bogus or not as good as they sound in the ad.  This would give you an opportunity to teach your student what to look for when considering a used vehicle.

Next week: Part 3

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Welcome to the Real World

financial decisions simulation

For many years our family has participated in a homeschool co-op.  I have taught a class at the co-op for as long as we have participated.  Often, coming up with an idea for a class is a bit of a challenge.

This past semester, I created and taught a class for high school students called Welcome to the Real World.

This was a simulation class that led students through college, career, and financial choices to determine how those choices might play out.

Students were required to research options, make a decision, follow through with that decision and make more choices based on their research and some ‘luck of the draw’.

 My goal for the class was to teach decision making and money management in a fun way, not to try to predict the future of any student.

Our co-op lasts ten weeks each semester, so this class has ten lessons.

Week One-
Students were introduced to the working definition of the 'real world'- 

what you think/hope will happen or how it will work, vs how it actually does happen or work

We also discussed the fear of making decisions.  High school students are at an age where they will make many, many life decisions during the next 5 -10 years.

The first week of class, I told them this:
"Decision making can be scary.  Fear of making a wrong decision can paralyze you into making no decision, which in itself, is a decision  Don’t be afraid to make choices.  Choices are not binding for the rest of your life.  Yes, sometimes the consequences of choices stay with you a very long time, but you can change your course.

The goal of this class is to help you make wise choices so you can avoid the consequences of poor choices."

The first choice students were required to make was:

What do I ultimately want to be when I grow up?

We discussed this in class and then I wrote the answer on the board:


"You don't want to live in your parents basement," became the class joke.

Some weeks required more research homework than others and the first week kept the students busy with research.

They were required to answer the following questions and turn in some written answers:

1.What do I want to do with my life?  (I provided a worksheet to help narrow this down)

2. Does what you want to do require a college degree?  (research current
job openings for requirements-use major websites-monster, indeed, etc)

3. What colleges offer this degree?  (research colleges and cost)

4. Which, if any, companies offer on the job training?

5. What jobs(careers) do not require a 4 year degree

Written work to turn in:
1.  Your career/job choice
2.   3 possible colleges or training programs for that choice (and cost)
3.  5 possible careers that do not require a 4 year degree.  These do not have to be jobs/careers that you are interested in.

I will cover the remaining weeks of this class in up-coming posts.  Be sure to subscribe to my blog to see how my students' 'real world' happened.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reality Check

My high school senior has been very busy with college and scholarship applications as the early application deadlines approach.  I think he will be glad to be finished with them.  

He has also been diligent to write one blog post per week as part of his English assignment.  
Last week he was playing catch-up and wrote two posts on the same day.  Today, I would like to share those with you, for two reasons.

1.  The Opera? post just speaks the truth that most of us would like to say.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake

pumpkin bars

This is another recipe that falls under the " I Thought I Already Shared It With You" category.

Whenever I make this, it disappears quickly because it is so yummy.  Bake some today.

 Pumpkin Streusel Sheet Cake

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Blessing of Independent Teens

Recently, my husband and I headed north for several days and left our 16 and 18 year old home alone.

I left them a 'to-do' list as a reminder, and felt confident that they would get where they needed to go on time.

Then, my daughter, who is getting married in January (have I mentioned that lesson planning may have taken a back seat to wedding planning?), called to ask me to go to 'the big city' and buy a couple bridesmaid dresses at a particular store.  
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