Students will broaden their understanding of setting personal and financial goals, and positive and negative incentives related to financial decisions, especially investing and donating. They will determine how goal setting influences economic decision-making.
Teacher Note: This unit is designed for use with Money Smart Choices: Financial Literacy and Philanthropy, http://www.learningtogive.org/moneysmartchoices/ an interactive web site created through a partnership between the National Endowment for Financial Education® or NEFE® and The League: Curriculum by Learning to Give. The unit can be used effectively even if Internet access is not available to students. All of the content of the web site is provided in the lesson’s Instructional Procedures or Attachments.
Adapt this lesson, and all lessons in this unit, as needed for student level. Specific activities can be omitted or enhanced to meet learner needs.
Two 45 Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
- participate in discussions about goals and the use of money.
- define incentives, and describe positive and negative incentives.
- give examples of short, medium, and long term goals.
- explore how their choices can affect their own well being and that of the community.
- identify the benefits of setting goals and committing to them.
Write “impulse spending” on the board or chart paper. Take a quick survey of those who have ever purchased something “on impulse” when they probably shouldn’t have done so, given their financial situation at the time.
Write “buyers remorse” on the board or chart paper. Ask students if anyone can define the term. ("Buyers remorse” is regretting a purchase after the fact.) Ask for volunteers to share an example of when they may have experienced “impulse spending” or “buyer’s remorse.” Pose these questions:
What benefits did you see when you made the decision to spend?
What costs (monetary and other) were perceived?
The perceived benefits and costs that we consider when making any economic decision are called incentives? Having more desirable goods and services is a powerful positive incentive to motivate people to spend, sometimes impulsively.
- Introduce the economic concept of incentives by writing the word on a display area. Tell students that incentives are positive (benefits) or negative (costs) factors that motivate or influence people. Understanding what incentives are at work in any potential decision can help a person make a better decision.
- Positive incentives are rewards that motivate you to do something. They can be monetary, or they could be psychological, emotional or moral rewards, or could involve time saved, etc.
- Negative incentives (also called disincentives) are like penalties that motivate or persuade you to not do something. They could be monetary, such as a fine or loss of profit, or they could be non-monetary, such as a threat of punishment or shame, etc.
- In a display area, show the following chart:
- Brainstorm with students some positive and negative incentives in the classroom (grades, rules, rewards, punishments, peer pressure, etc.), school at large (graduating, scholarships, awards, etc), family, or everyday life in the community (positive and negative incentives relating to money, consumption of goods and services, obeying laws, etc.)
- After building lists, suggest that incentives, both positive and negative, are important forces that influence the way people behave. In fact, a core principle of economics is that people do respond predictably to incentives. If incentives are changed, behavior predictably changes. Since most people want to maximize their benefits, they look for more ways to be rewarded.
- Ask the following questions as appropriate for your class:
- Debrief Day One by asking:
Optional Day One Lesson Extensions:
- Invite a bank or financial institution representative to bring brochures, pamphlets, and flyers about saving and investing. Compare interest rates during the presentation and incentives relating to different savings plans.
- Print out a graph of the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and discuss the highs and lows over history and the general trend over time. Is this a positive incentive for investing in stocks over the long term?
- Invite a local stockbroker to class to address the topic of how to be a smart investor for money that will grow on its own. Prepare class questions in advance that cover beginning strategies, diversification, and long-term strategies. Focus on what students can do to get started.
Write the word “goals” on a display area. Ask students to recall prior knowledge of incentives in the Day One lesson and ask: “What do goals and incentives have in common?” (Goals act as incentives that help us achieve something in the future like buying the goods and services we want the most, or donating to a charity, or saving/investing for other things we want.) Ask the students if they or their families have any goals.
- Ask students to list some benefits of sticking with and achieving ones saving and investing goals. (getting more of the goods and services you want eventually, personal satisfaction for achieving what you set out to do). Relate this to the class fund-raising (saving) project.
- Ask students if they can identify the opportunity cost of setting a goal. (giving up the next-best alternative of not having a goal)
- Explain that saving goals can be short-term, medium-term, or long-term depending on what you are saving for and how much is saved each week, month, or year.
Short-term saving goals are for something people plan to buy soon, usually in less than a year.
Medium-term goals are usually set for between one and three years, such as saving to buy a used car.
Long-term goals, like saving for college, a home, or retirement, for more than three years are called long-term goals.
- Hand out Attachment One: The Goal Setting Process. Read and discuss the steps together. Discuss a personal example or ask for a student example of the goal setting process leading to achievement of a goal.
- Hand out Attachment Two: Saving and Investing Goals. Explain that eventually achieving any goal, financial or otherwise, requires some focus and effort.
- Model possible answers for the chart by asking for student volunteers to share a short, medium, and long term saving/investment goal. For each goal, ask the student to provide source(s) of income for that goal and to determine what their opportunity cost would be for saving/investing money for that goal. Write each goal, income source, and opportunity cost on the display area to model how the chart should be completed.
- Give the students 5-10 minutes to complete the Saving and Investing Goals chart. They may be asked to share their charts with others in pairs or small groups prior to debriefing this activity.
- For debriefing the following questions may be asked:
- Hand out Attachment Three: Personal Reflection on Goals and give students a choice to write, either in class or as a homework assignment, on one of the topic. Adjust rubric to suit needs of the class.
- Conclude the lesson by reminding students that in the next lesson we will be applying a very useful decision making model to select a nonprofit for the class donations. The best possible class goal will be set that reflects what is important to the class. Explain that a clearly defined goal for the class has a better chance of being achieved, especially if the goal setting process is followed.
Teacher observation of student participation during class discussions
Analysis of responses to goals chart and/or written assignment
Lesson Developed By:John Noling
Directions: Write personal saving/investment goals for the short, medium, and long term. Write your goals in the chart and determine the most realistic opportunity for choosing to save/invest for that particular goal. Example: Saving $40 per month for a car in the medium-term might have an opportunity cost of not spending that amount on entertainment. Remember: Opportunity cost is in the “eye of the beholder” and depends on the perceptions, values, and priorities of the individual.
Sources of Income(savings, part-time job, gifts, etc.)
Saving/Investment Goals(be specific)
Opportunity Cost (Next best alternative given up)
Directions: Choose a topic and write 2 (or more) paragraphs focusing on:
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.