New school curriculum aims to teach teens how to budget

H&R Block's new Dollar & Sense program teaches teens about real world budgeting in the safety of a controlled simulation.
Published : September 08, 2014

The program is meant to spark debate among students, like if buying cell phone insurance is worth it. Credit: Colourbox The program is meant to spark debate among students, like if buying cell phone insurance is worth it.
Credit: Colourbox


It's not new news that teens are graduating high school without having basic financial skills or knowing how to budget. But a new financial literacy program aimed at teens that is expected to roll out into 2,000 high schools across the country this year is attempting to change that.



Today H&R Block launched its new Dollars & Sense program, a $3 million initiative that will teach teens 14 and over real world financial skills. The program gives teachers a lesson plan that revolves around a simulation where students have a salary, bills and the same expected costs of everyday living the average adult faces in real life.


"[As part of the simulation], they have a job and right away select a 401k contribution plan so they know how to budget for their current and future self," H&R Block's personal finance consultant and high school economics teacher Brian Page tells us. "They have to select a cable service, a phone service, whether or not they want insurance when they get a new phone ... And just like in real life, unexpected expenses come up, like when you accidentally drop your phone in a lake."

Page has long been an advocate for teen financial literacy and is a big champion of the new Dollars & Sense program. "It's a road test where teens can experience real world financial responsibilities without the pain of real world fees," he says. What's more, Page says teens are actually craving this knowledge. "I teach in a district where there's a wide variety of kids and it's almost inherent where they see the value in this," he says. "It's the training wheels they need for comfort and support initially so it's easier for them when those training wheels come off and they're in the real world," Page adds.

Teachers interested in integrating the program into their classroom can sign up at hrblockdollarsandsense.comwhere they are asked to fill out a short form. The sign-up has been open for two weeks and H&R Block is projecting that at least 2,000 will take part this year.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

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