Credit Introduction

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce learners to the complex economic world of credit and credit cards. The learners will identify the uses as well as the abuses of credit and credit cards, and explore ways to effectively utilize them so that they will be better able to spend, save, invest, and donate to meet their needs and wants. 

PrintThree to Four Fifty to Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will

  • understand the terms goods and services and how they relate to wants and needs, and budgeting for the four uses of money: spend, save, invest, and donate.
  • increase their knowledge of credit and credit card usage.
  • identify the pros and cons/uses and abuses of credit and credit cardsand apply this information to the use of money.
  • calculate a safe debt load; The 20/10 Rule
  • accesstheir credit rating. (optional)
  • A display of the results of the previous lesson's discussion regarding Money.
  • Learner Copies of Attitude Survey (Handout One)
  • Florida State University Credit Video (See Bibliography below)
  • Learner Copies of Credit Interview (Handout Two)
  • Instructor Copies of Lecture Notes: Building Credit (Handout Three) and Lecture Notes: Using Credit Wisely (Handout Four).
  • Learner Copies of the 20/10 Rule Practice Problems (Handout Five)
Home Connection 

Using Handout Two: Credit Interview, have the learners ask someone at home or in their community about their previous experiences with credit.



  1. Anticipatory Set:While shuffling an assortment of Credit Cards, share with the learners, that by completing the My Future Money Pie during the last class period, they have taken a step closer to the scary 'B'-word known in the adult world as budgeting. (Note: Be sure that the learners understand that any planto spend, save, invest, and donate ones money is called a budget.) The fact that they projected how they thought they would be using their money at age 35, gives them a start with the budgeting process. Point to and remind the learners of the display board activity listing spend, save, invest, and donate as well as wants and needs (Saved from Lesson One). Introduce and have the learners define the terms goods and services. (Goods are considered tangible items for use and/or consumption, Services are considered the help/assistance given to another to accomplish a task.) Go back over the list of 50-75 items placing a "G" on those items considered a good and "SER" on those items considered a service. Lead the learners to the conclusion that goods and services as well as wants and needs all have an impact on ones decision to spend, save, invest and/or donate. Hold up the stack of credit cards that you have been shuffling and say, "Some economists say these plastic cards negatively impact spending, saving, investing, and donating in three out of four homes!" Ask the learners to hold up any credit cards that they might have.

  2. Read the following man-on-the-street response concerning credit cards. Have the learners share the pros and cons of this statement.

  3. "With a credit card I don't have to delay gratification. What I mean by that is I don't have to ask myself the questions, 'Do I really want or need this good or service?' ' Do I have enough money now to buy this good/service?' I can buy anything I want or need whenever I want it or need it! It's great!"

  4. Continue the discussion by asking the learners to share if they have have credit cards and some of the problems with credit cards that either they have personally encountered or problems that they have heard others have had with them and list these comments on the display board.

  5. Place a plus sign (+) and a minus sign (-) on the display board and conclude this portion of the lesson by having students debate whether having and using credit cards are a good thing or a bad thing. List the positive and negative comments concerning credit card usage under the appropriate symbol. (The intent of this debate is to help the learners realize that there are both pros and cons for the use of credit cards.)

  6. Following the debate, distribute and have the learners individually complete the Attitude Survey (Handout One). Once completed designate a "yes" and "no" area in the room for the learners to move to, that corresponds with either their "yes" or "no" response to each question. Read each question and without comment have the learners move to the area representing their response.

  7. Once everyone has moved to their corresponding response area, encourage the learners to share the reason why they responded to the question as they did.

  8. Once each question has been posed and the subsequent movement and discussion has occurred, show the Florida State University Credit Video.

  9. Following the viewing of the video, have the learners discuss how their thoughts concerning credit card usage may have changed or have been reinforced by the class discussions and Florida State University video.

  10. Conclude this lesson having the learners respond in writing to this reflection prompt, "Knowing thatresponsible use of credit cards is not only a good thing it is also the law, if and when I obtain a credit card, I plan to do the following things in order to avoid some of the negative situations that could arise from credit card use.

  11. Encourage the learners to share some of their findings in the Credit Interview that they found interesting. Particularly have them share the response(s) of the interviewee to Question #10 and relate that response to how they personally responded to the reflection prompt given in the previous lesson. Have them point out similarities and differences.

  12. Share and discuss Lecture Notes: Building Credit (Handout Three) and Lecture Notes: Using Credit Wisely (Handout Four).

  13. Assign the learners to groups of three or four, distribute the 20/10 Rule Practice Problems (Handout Five)and have themapply the 20/10 ruleto the various scenarios. (The answer for Scenario #1 -assuming no other debt, it is still not within the safe debt load which is $2,400 { 20% of $12,000= $2,400}. The answer to Scenario #2 -assuming no other debt, it is within the safe debt load calculation which is $100 {10% of $1,000 is $100}.The answers to Scenario #3- even with the additional debt load of student loan and car payments, purchasing the boat would be within the safe debt load which is $6,672 annually { $36,000 - $2,640 (annual student and car debts)= $33,360 x 20%= $6,672 (Note: The house debt would not figure into this calculation). However, the monthly payments would not be within the safe debt load which is $278 monthly { $3,000 monthly salary- $220 monthly student and car payments= $2,780 x 10%= $278. (Note: again,the house debt would not figure into this calculation.)

  14. Conclude this lesson by having the learners reflect and write a two paragraph response to this question. "If the average American had budgeted his/her money (some going to spending, saving, investing, and donating), but due to credit card abuse they had to cut back on their budget, which of the four areas do you think would be cut back first and why?

  15. For homework, assign the Credit Interview (Handout Two)


The learners will be assessed based on their contributions to the class discussions, their completion of and involvement in the Attitude Survey, the depth of their thought and understandingevident in their reflection response, and the completion and appropriate reporting of their in-class as well as homework assignments.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will conduct an interview of an adult family member or adult neighbor and/or friend concerning credit cards and their use.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.13 Give examples of how philanthropy has reallocated limited resources through giving and citizen action.
      2. Benchmark HS.6 Explain how economic systems encourage or discourage philanthropy and the civil society sector.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.