The first week, we went through several personal inventories (interests, skills, values, etc) and discovered good career matches. The students didn’t have to choose one of these to build their future lives (and budget) on.

Week 2, Elizabeth walked them through keeping a running bank balance and how to reconcile a bank account. Even if an app does it for them, understanding the process will help them when they have to find errors in their app reconciliation. They also had some great conversations related to the various entries including “Why would you write a check?” 

This week we decided future careers so I can find them appropriate starting salaries to build their budgets with. Those who have careers without clear earnings (pro athlete, entrepreneur, etc) will be given a minimum wage full-time salary to start (slightly above as IL will have $13/hour minimum as of Jan 1, 2023 but most places start no lower than $14-$15/hour now). We also looked at sample paystubs and talked about the types of incomes (regular, vacation, sick, overtime, etc) and the deductions—required and optional. That led to touching on retirement savings and compounding interest. I told them about saving every month from ages 20-25 and then not at all until retirement vs saving the same amount monthly from 40 until retirement. They might really enjoy playing with some online investment calculators to see the effects. You might consider the following:

(for the “only save for 5 years” scenario, I take the total after 5 years and use it as the “initial investment” with no additional contributions for another 42 years)

The kids have been very interested in all of this as evidenced by their questions—which included “How old do you have to be to open a 401k?”  Turns out, there is no minimum age (each plan dictates this) and you CAN open a 401k to contribute income that’s already been taxed.  We also briefly touched on Social Security income & disability. 

I’m excited as we will start having them shop for real food with real budgets, pay for phones and transportation, and find real housing before the semester is over!

Personal Finance: Careers & Investing