Sunday, March 26, 2017

Homeschooling Life Skills: Budget

I wanted to start a series of blog posts for homeschoolers and perhaps even for parents that just want their kids to be prepared for the world when it smacks them upside their face.

And it will, we all know this.

I polled many of my Facebook people and asked what they wished their parents had taught them when they were young and that helped build my list of topics. One of the highest on the list was money. How do we deal with money?

So, here's what I did.

Today's subject was Michael. Michael is ten, almost eleven. I thought he would be a better candidate than Max, who at eight, sees money only as a way to get more toys.  His turn is coming. 

Thanks Michael, for being the oldest child I can experiment on.

I asked Michael to pick an occupation. I told him it wasn't a life choice, just something we could use for a lesson.

He couldn't think of anything. So, we had a brainstorming session. I had him think of ten or so occupations he could see himself doing, which was easier. Then, he picked one.

Animal trainer.

Sounds like a good choice, fitting for his personality.

We looked it up on the Occupational Outlook Handbook.  If you don't know about his little gem, you're welcome. 

Animal Trainer

The median pay for an animal trainer is $21,260 per year. I subtracted ten percent for taxes (I am a generous overlord) and divided that number by twelve.

We had a monthly income.

Next, I asked him where he wanted to live. He decided Seattle was a good location. So, I had him look up one bedroom and efficiency apartments in Seattle. This was a great time to talk about room mates and the problems and benefits of living with someone.

Next came transportation, groceries, insurance and so on. He realized pretty quickly that he couldn't afford a car on that paycheck in that apartment. So, he decided a bicycle and a bus pass were the way to go.

We worked the budget with some basics. The real lesson was about to happen.

Next, I asked him to look up another occupation he had mentioned in the brainstorming session.

Computer Programmer

The median annual pay for a programmer is a bit better at $79,530. I subtracted twenty percent for taxes (I am a benevolent overlord, but also somewhat realistic) and divided by twelve for a new monthly income.

Michael said he could probably afford three cars if he wanted them.

Then he noticed something. The education requirement for a computer programmer was a Bachelor's degree minimum. The animal trainer didn't require a degree.


So we looked up some other professions, nurse, doctor, accountant. And he discovered that the more education you had, the more you likely made.

Suddenly there was new light shed on all that math and science stuff we keep trying to teach him.

Then, we had a talk about value. Is it better to do something you love and get paid less or something you might not love and get paid more? Is there something that you think sounds fun that pays well? 

It was a good lesson, I think.

Round one in the books.

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