Want to introduce a money project to your students? Check out these personal finance project examples for middle and high school.
Every so often, I find a fun and interesting personal finance project example that I think should be passed on so that other educators can use it.
So today, I thought it’d be helpful to highlight them all in an article (that I update periodically with new ideas and examples as they come to me).
You can use these to round out your financial literacy class with an overall project due at the end of the semester, OR, squeeze one of these projects in for students to work on mainly at home if you don’t have a dedicated fin lit class.
Perhaps you are into project-based learning, and one of these could be the perfect anchor to your entire semester.
There’s lots of uses!
Personal Finance Project Examples
Below, you’ll find a mix of actual personal finance project examples from real classrooms and schools, as well as ideas for money projects that haven’t been done before.
I hope you get inspired.
Mr. Brennan’s Personal Finance Project
This teacher has created a personal finance project geared towards financial independence that accounts for 20% of his student’s grade in Economics.
Students are tasked with making a budget, finding an apartment, filling out a rental application, looking into utilities, meal planning, and all the things that go into getting that first apartment on their own.
He’s got a Part II, with tons of lessons around the theme of Staying Within Your Budget.
Project-Based Learning Finance Project
What a cool idea – in this PBL, students meet different families (adults pretending to be clients) and see what their financial needs and desires are.
They interview them to find out more about their lives, and what they’re looking for. They also get a printout of their financial situation.
It’s like they’re playing financial planner (in fact, the teacher had a financial planner come in to talk about her job and go through examples)!
11 Personal Finance Projects from Atlanta Fed (PDF)
The Atlanta Fed has this great resource with 10 different personal finance projects to use throughout the year (rubric included).
And…it’s available for free!
Author Julie Kornegay suggests that you have students complete 10 projects, with each being worth 20 points. Have them create a three-ring binder with each of their projects, and make it a large part of their final grade.
Working through each of the following projects will give your students a financial strategy to take with them:
- Expense tracking
- Setting financial goals
- Balance sheets and cash flow statements
- Creating a budget
- Credit reports
- Purchasing a vehicle
- Saving and investing for the long term
- Important financial documents
- Retirement savings
- Insurance inventory
Hint: she also gives several tips for how to keep everyone feeling safe doing these projects – since they’ll be sharing sensitive information at some point.
Youth Cash Transfer Program
40 students inside Rooted School Indianapolis were chosen to receive $50/week, for 40 weeks (adding up to $2,000 in total).
And here’s the kicker: they’re allowed to spend it however they’d like.
Talk about a bit of a fish bowl experiment, where teens can practice both receiving money and spending money without huge real-world consequences.
To be honest, I’m following this study because I want to see how things turn out (researchers are going to be monitoring and studying the results of this program).
Build a Classroom Food Pantry
Here’s a school that allowed a student to create and run a food pantry (as part of his Eagle Scout service project)…and now it runs continually as a grocery store experience for students that helps the community.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information on this. But, could be a great project to develop at your own school now that you have the idea.
Psst: Want more? Don’t forget to check out these budget project for middle school students, and budget projects for high school students.
Mr. Saulino’s Personal Finance Webquest Project
If you’re in Mr. Saulino’s Social Studies course, then you’ll be completing a project called Personal Finance Webquest.
Each student pretends they are 22 years old, and they have $7,000 in their savings account to spend, or not spend, as they wish.
Students are required to stay within their budget while accomplishing the following:
- find an occupation
- set up and maintain a budget based upon your income
- rent and furnish an apartment or purchase a home
- purchase a car
- set up an investment portfolio
There are links provided in each section to help guide students in finding the information they need to complete their tasks.
Personal Finance Culminating Project
One teacher found her students were super bored with personal finance topics, so she decided to change things up.
Students need to pick 5 topics from a big list, and write a brief post about them (150-300 words) or a podcast summary.
Written pieces were posted to a classroom blog, and the quiz for the unit was for each student to read 5 others’ blogs, and summarize what they learned.
Apparently, this was quite the hit!
Included in that article are the Personal Finance Culminating Assignment, and Investigations Rubric.
Gen Z Money Project
Based on CNBC’s Millennial Money video series, this high school teacher developed an after school personal finance project where students plan what their life looks like at age 30.
Students complete a:
- Futures Thinking Activity
- Personal Values Activity
- Vision Board Activity
- Budget and Salary Activity
- Career Activity
And then students presented everything using Google Slides presentations.
Do you have a market day at your school? You know, where students come up with an idea for what to make or do in order to sell it to either their peers, the community, etc. on a Market Day at the school?
While it’s not entirely a personal finance project – it’s got more to do with entrepreneurship and running a business – I still thought it was worth mentioning here.
I've got an article on 22 Simple Market Day Ideas, and it's gotten a lot of attention.
My Pet Plan Project
Most kids, at some point, want to own a pet.
Take this desire, and let them learn some critical money lessons with it.
Have each of your students come up with a plan for buying and maintaining a pet for six months.
They get to decide things like:
- What type of pet to buy
- Where to buy their pet
- What accessories to purchase
- A feeding plan for their pet with costs
My First Car: The First Six Months
Many tweens and teens are looking to buy their first car in the coming few years.
But, how exactly are they supposed to do that? What are the steps? What are the estimated costs?
Then, how much does it cost to run their new car for the first six months?
You can also have them do things like calculate the cost of buying a new car each year for three years, versus paying one off and riding it another 7 years (also, opportunity costs).
Here's how to save up for a car as a teenager.
Buyer’s Remorse Project
Have your students save each of their receipts for one month leading up to this project (you can hand them a special envelope to remind them to do it).
When one month is up, have students do things like:
- Fill in a spending ledger
- Look at the totality of their spending over the entire period
- Divide it up by needs vs. wants
- Figure out percentages spent on needs vs. wants
- Figure out satisfaction for each purchase
- Categorize by days of week/types of stores to pinpoint/open their eyes to some of their spending habits
- Go through a tradeoffs exercise
- Run through a lesson on money values – shuffle anonymous sheets up and hand them out to ask others what their satisfaction level would be for the various spending (to find out that everyone prioritizes and values their money differently)
- Have them read through these 7 smart ways to spend your graduation money
Ask students things like “why might someone else’s buyer’s remorse not be yours? Did you have more buyer’s remorse when it was your money spent, than looking at how someone else spent their money? Why do you think that is?
I hope I've inspired you with some of these personal finance project examples. And I'd love to hear your own – please share in the comments to help other educators with ideas.
Amanda L. Grossman
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