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Money Math Lessons for Life

Mary C. Suiter and Sarapage McCorkle

Money Math: Lessons for Life is a four-lesson curriculum supplement for middle school math classes, teaching grade 7-9 math concepts using real-life examples from personal finance. The 86-page book is a teacher's guide with lesson plans, reproducible activity pages, and teaching tips.

Lesson 1, The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire

Personal Finance Concepts

Interest, interest rate, compounding, wealth, saving, savings, inflation, purchasing power

Lesson Description

Students learn how saving helps people become wealthy. They develop “rules to become a millionaire” as they work through a series of exercises, learning that it is important to: (1) save early and often, (2) save as much as possible, (3) earn compound interest, (4) try to earn a high interest rate, (5) leave deposits and interest earned in the account as long as possible, and (6) choose accounts for which interest is compounded often. This lesson assumes that students have worked with percents and decimal equivalents.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Define saving, incentive, interest, and opportunity cost.
  2. Solve problems using interest rate, fractions, decimals, and percentages.
  3. Calculate compound interest.
  4. Explain the benefits of compound interest.
  5. Explain the opportunity cost of saving.
  6. Describe a savings bond investment.

Lesson 2, Wallpaper Woes

Personal Finance Concepts

Trade-offs, budget constraint, expenses

Lesson Description

Students hear a story about Tom, a middle-school student who wants to redecorate his bedroom. They measure the classroom wall dimensions, draw a scale model, and incorporate measurements for windows and doors to determine the area that could be covered by wallpaper. Students then hear more about Tom's redecorating adventure, learning about expenses, budget constraints, and tradeoffs. For assessment, students measure their rooms at home. This lesson requires that students know how to measure, or a review may be necessary before teaching.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Measure in feet and calculate square feet.
  2. Define area.
  3. Calculate the area of squares and rectangles.
  4. Define trade offs, budget constraint, and expenses.
  5. Identify trade offs.

Lesson 3, Math and Taxes - A Pair to Count On

Personal Finance Concepts

Income, saving, taxes, gross income, net income

Lesson Description

Students examine careers and reflect on how workers use math in their occupations. They study selected occupations, learning about the work skills (human capital) that different workers possess and salaries that those workers earn. Next, students learn about how taxes are paid on income that people earn and how income tax is calculated. They learn how the progressive federal income tax is based on the ability-to-pay principle.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Describe examples of human capital.
  2. Explain the link between human capital and income earning potential and provide examples.
  3. Define and provide examples of human and capital resources.
  4. Define and provide examples of income, saving, taxes, gross income, and net income.
  5. Define and provide examples of ability-to-pay and progressive tax.
  6. Calculate tax rates (percents) and the dollar amount of taxes.
  7. Read and understand tax tables.

Lesson 4, Spreading the Budget

Personal Finance Concepts

Budget, gross and net income, payroll taxes, fixed expenses, variable expenses, periodic expenses

Lesson Description

Students develop a budget for a college student using a spreadsheet. They examine the student’s fixed, variable, and periodic expenses and revise to adjust for cash flow problems that appear on the first spreadsheet. Note: Instructions for using a spreadsheet are based on Microsoft Excel® but generally apply to other spreadsheet software. This lesson is designed to increase student awareness and appreciation of the efficiency of using computer technology in math applications. The use of a computer lab is recommended. If the lesson is taught with a few computers, increase the time required indicated below.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Develop, analyze and revise a budget.
  2. Define and give examples of fixed expenses.
  3. Define and give examples of variable expenses.
  4. Explain how periodic expenses affect the budgeting process.
  5. Explain and give an example of a budget surplus and a budget deficit.
  6. Create a spreadsheet for a budget.


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