Money Management

9, 10, 11, 12

Students engage in a variety of activities that teach the value of budgeting and fundraising. They will investigate the concept of enlightened self-interest and how that correlates to good time and money management and civic engagement.

PrintOne Class Period and additional time for students to plan and implement a fundraiser

The learner will:

  • analyze personal spending habits.
  • differentiate between the use of funds by for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
  • define "enlightened self-interest."
  • plan a fundraiser to benefit a nonprofit organization.
  • Student copies of Handout: Plan a Poetry Slam
Teacher Preparation 

For a comprehensive unit on money management and budgeting for teens see the Learning to Give lesson, Money Smart Teens. This unit investigates the basic concepts of spending, saving, donating, and investing with emphasis on the concept of philanthropy and important economics vocabulary fundamental to “the economic way of thinking.”  Students use an economic decision-making model to make an important decision and create personal spending plans (budgets).  They also investigate the workings of nonprofit/civil society organizations and participate in an act of philanthropy as a class by presenting funds they have raised to a community nonprofit.


management: to watch and direct

expense: an amount paid for goods and services

budget: an amount of money assigned for a certain purpose

expenditure: money paid out

fundraising: the act or process of raising money for non-profit organizations or a political cause

investors: someone who invests money or makes an investment

invest: to put (money) to use by purchase in something offering potential profitable returns

for profit organization: a business that makes and/or sells good and services, focus is to make money (profit) for the owners/stockholders.

nonprofit organization: the Internal Revenue Service's designation of an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company, focus is on helping a community and is concerned with money only as much as necessary to support the organization.


Post the following question: “How has your thinking around personal time and money management, including budgeting, and the connection between good money/time management and the common good been affected by these lessons and the fundraising experience? How will you use your time and money differently as a result?” Ask them to write some brief thoughts in response to this question. Ask for volunteers to share their thoughts with the rest of the group.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the students that you’re interested in learning about the things they spend their money on in an average week. Ask the students to estimate the amount of money all the members of the class spend each week. Ask for a few volunteers to share their estimates. Record these in a display area.

  2. Assign the students to take a personal inventory about their weekly spending habits. Have them visualize themselves through the course of a week and write down all the things they spend money on and record the estimated cost. Ask them to anonymously write the total amount they spend in an average week on a piece of paper. Collect the papers. Ask a student to call out the amounts while the students write them down. Ask the students to add up the total and check that all agree on the total amount spent by the class in one week. Compare this total to the estimates.

  3. Ask the students to divide the total estimated class spending by the number of students in the class to determine the average estimated amount spent per student. Report any thoughts they have about the total money the group spends and the average per-student expenditure. Ask what they think about the amount? Does it seem high or low? What is the source of the money they spend - allowance based on a criteria (chores, grades), parents, job, savings from gifts?

  4. Ask for a show of hands to indicate if the students would like to have more money to spend at their discretion. Do a quick brainstorm of ways the students think they could have more money available. If the ideas of money management and economizing aren't suggested, add them to the list. Ask “Why do you think personal money management is important both to you personally and to society in general?”

  5. Help students expand their thinking to a community or global perspective by introducing the idea that people and organizations - both for profit and nonprofit - need to practice good money management. Be sure the students understand the difference between for-profit and nonprofit by reviewing the definitions. Ask them to name nonprofit organizations in their community and the world that they are familiar with. Ask the students how nonprofits get their money to operate.

  6. The total amount spent by the class in the introductory activity may be a significant amount, and some students may recognize that this money could have the power to make a difference in a fundraiser for an issue or nonprofit organizaion they care about. If the conversation goes in that direction, talk about the concepts of personal choice and opportunity cost.

  7. Distribute Handout One:Plan a Poetry Slam. Tell the students that they will be reading about some teens who were motivated to raise funds for a nonprofitin a unique way. The students work in pairs to read the information and note in the margins of the scenario theWho/What/When/Where/Why/How information.

  8. Refer the students to the budget chart that follows the scenario. With a partner, have them complete the chart using information from the scenario and on the internet, if possible. After a few minutes have each pair join with another pair and compare their findings. Hold a brief discussion about what they discovered through this process.

  9. With the students, revisit the ideas generated in Lesson One and Two on time management and study skills. Ask the students to consider these questions: What will be the results of implementing the ideas and strategies leaned about time and money management and study skills? How might becoming more organized in these personal aspects support you in contributing to the common good through service, volunteerism and/or advocacy? Why might you want to invest some of your time, talent, and treasure (money) in service, volunteerism and/or advocacy?"

  10. Write the term "enlightened self-interest" in a display area. Ask the students to suggest definitions for "enlightened" and "self-interest." Write the definition of "enlightened self-interest" after the term. Discuss the definition with the students and how they see a connection between their own well-being and the well-being of the local and/or global community.

  11. Have the students create a list of causes or issues they might want to assist through holding a fundraising project. Brainstorm ideas of the types of fundraisers they might hold. Through consensus, narrow the ideas to one or two that might be feasible for the class to implement.

  12. Assign teams to plan the service projects using forms, as appropriate, from Handout: Service Project Planning to guide student planning.

  13. Conclude the class with each team sharing their idea and reporting briefly on anything they noticed about the possible budget they are considering.

  14. Allow time for the students to finalize plans and implement the fundraiser.

  15. Following the fundraiser, reflect with the students on its impact (See the Reflection section of this lesson).

Cross Curriculum 

Students planand implement one of their fundraising ideas, using their newly acquired time and money management skills. Encourage students to consider donating the funds raised to a cause in one of the communities to which they belong. Students should be aware of the need to consolidate resources to make such events occur.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.8 Compare actions for the common good in a variety of economic systems.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and contrast enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism as they relate to philanthropy and principles of democracy.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Develop a detailed project budget.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.