Dollars and Sense Sample Chapter

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Text of Dollars and Sense Sample Chapter

  • 1Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Critical Thinking an

    d Fina


    l S


    C H AP



    Questions you will answer. . . .

    1. What is financial literacy?

    2. Can you tell the difference between needs and wants?

    3. Are you aware of your spending habits?

    4. Do you have a plan for the future?

    5. How can you see the big picture?

    6. How do you if-then thinking

    7. How can you see the big picture?

  • 2 C h a p t e r 2

    meet Clint

    Clint is a sophomore in high school and hes had a job ever since he was old enough to work. Currently, hes working at Little Caesars Pizza. His parents pay for most of his day-to-day expenses, such as shelter, food, clothes, and car insurance. However, they expect Clint to pay for incidentals, such as meals at fast food restaurants, music downloads, video games, gas, and car maintenance. Plus, they expect him to put away money for college.

    When Clint first started making money, he spent it as soon as a got it. A week before payday, he was usually counting change on the floorboards of his car to get enough gas money to drive to work. One day, he asked his dad for some car for gas. His dad responded with

    a question of his own. Where are you spending your money?

    Clint had never really thought much about it, so he decided to write down all his expendi-tures for the past week. He came up with quite a list: dinner and a movie with his girlfriend, lunch with his friends, a three-month subscription to World of Warcraft, gas for work, and daily mocha lattes from Starbucks before school. His dad asked him which of those things he really needed. Clint was stumpedhe bought them, so didnt that mean he needed them?

    Thats when Clints dad decided to sit down with Clint and talk about financial literacy . . . of course he didnt call it that, he called it spend-ing money wisely. Together, Clint and his dad discussed how much Clint made, how much he spent, and what he spent it on. Clint realized that he spend more than he made and didnt put any money away for college.

    Next, Clints parents asked Clint to help them with a family budget. That meant listing all the familys bills and prioritizing them between needs and wants. Needs were bills the family had to pay, for services they could not do without: the house mortgage, groceries, car insurance, and utilities. Wants were items the family would like to buy, but could do without if they had to: a new television and a family vacation.

  • h o w C a n Y o u C r e a t e a V i s i o n ? 3

    get ready

    When Clint saw that his parents had to make hard decisions be-tween paying for needs and wants, he decided to make his own budget and do the same. His parents helped him get started and at first the budget felt restrictive. But after awhile, Clint started to feel in control of his financeshe was making informed decisions about what to buy and when. By the time he was a senior, Clint was paying for the things he needed, some of the things he wanted, and was able to put money away for college. He was financially literate!

    Like Clint, all of us struggle with telling the difference

    between what we want and what we actually need. It

    doesnt help that were inundated daily with ads urging

    us to buy, buy, buy, or bombarded with images of what

    were supposed to look like, wear, or own so we fit in with

    the cool people. We have become a consumer nation without

    any thought to how well pay for it all. Is it any wonder that so many

    people are in debt?

    However, you dont have to wind up overspending and in debt. In-

    stead, you can follow Clints lead by becoming aware of your spending,

    acknowledging what funds you have, making wise decisions about what

    you must have and what you can do without, and taking responsibility for

    those decisions.

    In this chapter, were going to introduce you to some of the concepts

    that youll study in detail in later chapters. We want you to get a taste

    of things to come. Youll have a chance to get acquainted with financial

    literacy, tell the difference between needs and wants, become aware of

    your spending habits, think about the future, and see the big picture when

    it comes to making decisions about money.

    WhaT iS FinanCial liTeraCy?

    A s we mentioned earlier, financial literacy is being able to man-age money wisely for lifetime security. There are a lot of people in the world today who dont feel

    very secure about their finances, and we want to make sure you are not one of them.

    When youre financially literate, you are aware of your personal financesyou

    financial literacy, noun

    Ability to use knowledge and skills to man-age your financial resources effectively for lifetime financial security.

  • 4know what you own, what money you have, and where its going. It means making conscious decisions about what to buy now and what to buy later. It means not always worrying about how you are going

    to pay for things.When you are financially literate, you

    become aware of your personal finances and the financial issues that can affect you.

    assets and liabilities

    As you probably noticed in the definition of personal finance, the word, income was mentioned. Most of you already know this means money that you have (whether you earned it or not). But what about the other word: assets? Thats a word youmay not use very often.

    An asset is financial-speak for what you own, specifically, anything that can be sold and converted into money. The opposite of an asset is a liability or what you owe (bills and expenses).

    Being literate involves more than being able to read; it involves being able to manage your finances wisely.

    personal finance, noun

    Methods you can use to acquire and manage income and assets.

    income, noun

    Monetary payment received for goods or services, or from other sources, as rents or investments.

  • h o w C a n Y o u C r e a t e a V i s i o n ? 5

    As a teenager, your income might include money you earn from a part-time job, interest from a savings account, or money gifts from relatives. Your assets might include a car (like Clint), a computer or a musical in-strument. And your liabilities might include the money you spend on clothing or gas, as well as music and coffee (like Clint).

    As you get older, your income, assets, and liabilities will change. Hopefully your income will grow. Your assets may even-tually include a home, furniture, jewelry, or maybe even a boat or some rare books. And your liabilities will prob-ably include groceries, utilities, a mortgage, a car loan (or boat loan), and educational expenses for your own children.

    Whether youre a teenager, a college student, or an adult with a career, liabilities are usually what you worry about. Unfortunately, with credit card companies making it so easy to get credit cards and buy things that you cant affordyou can easily end up a liabil-ity that grows and grows: credit card debt.

    Every teenager has some financial assets, either earned or unearned. Unfortunately, liabilities are more easily collected.

    asset, noun

    Money earned, along with items that can be converted to cash, including cash, securities, real estate, machinery, and other possessions.

    liability, noun

    Money owed, expenses.

  • 6 C h a p t e r 2

    Its enough to make you want to pull your hair out! But theres no need to go bald yet. As a teenager, you probably have less knowledge

    of personal finance than someone older. So its OK not to know everything you need to know about finances. Your knowledge will grow as you gain more responsibility and experience. This book provides a founda-tion you can build upon, the older you get.

    national Standards for Financial literacy

    Everything you learn in this book, maps directly to the National Stan-dards for Financial Literacy. In case you skipped the Preface, these standards were established by the Jump-$tart coalition to improve the financial literacy of children from pre-kindergarten through college-age. The basic catego-ries for the standards are:

    n Financial responsibility and decision- making. Learn Learnto make conscious decisions about purchases and take personal responsibility for those decisions.

    n Income and careers. Research different careers to learn what education is required, what job tasks are performed, and what income can be expected.

    n Planning and money management. Manage your day-to-day ex-penses with a budget, and plan for the future.

    n Credit and debt. Handle credit cards with care to prevent or reduce debt.

    n Risk management and insurance. Identify the different types of insurance that help minimize risks.

    n Saving and investing. Save money for emergencies and the future, and gain knowledge about different types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

    Each category consists of specific skills that form a foundation for your future life as a financially literate adult. If you happen to be the curious type, Appendix B at the end of the book lists the specific stan-dards in each category and which chapter covers them in this book.

    Just thinkunlike many adults today who had to figure out all this financial stuff on their own (making lots of mistakes along the

    quickcheckWhat is financial literacy?

    What is income?

    What are assets and liabilities?

  • h o w C a n Y o u C r e a t e a V i s i o n ? 7

    now you try i