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Middle Schoolers Milestones for Success

From the 6th grade to 8th grade, students are doing more than just preparing for high school; they are in the awkward stage of responsibility.  Between the ages of 11-13, these students don’t have anything immediate on their radar making saving and budgeting even more challenging. This just means it’s the perfect time for parents and educators to motivate them to think ahead.

Strong Foundation

If you didn’t work on financial milestones in elementary school, it’s time to get serious about your student understanding concepts such as:

  • Saving
  • Spending
  • Budgeting
  • Banking
  • Currency
  • Types of money
  • General taxes
  • Wants versus needs
  • Opportunity costs

These concepts will be necessary to introduce them to what financial experiences they will need in just a few years.

Upcoming Finances

It may be three to five years before a middle schooler can realistically look at getting a car, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about that day now. In essence, they are needing to understand “delayed gratification.” Individuals that learn how to prolong their needs tend to thrive more in their careers, relationships, health, and finances! Challenging your child or student with financial self-control will enable them to look ahead to see the value of having a car. It will determine if they will take out a loan for a car and add interest to the cost of their vehicle, or if they will be able to purchase a car with almost all cash down. Getting the conversation started and motivating your student along the way is step one in assisting them for the future. Next, if you haven’t done so already, you will need to enable them to succeed by helping them set up a bank account. Once that is taken care of, keep up the motivation. Discuss how exciting the moment will be when he or she receives their driver’s license and can have the freedom to go where they need to go on their own.  To ensure you’re discussing the financial goals they will soon experience, here is a list of topics to cover:

  • Car purchase
    • Affording gas
    • Car insurance
    • Car maintenance
    • Saving money to pay for the experience or product once you arrive at the destination
  • After-school job or summer jobs
  • Career exploration
  • College or trade school expenses


Storytelling to Connect

Using your personal experiences in these areas is a crucial piece in what makes Junior Achievement (JA) so effective. Our volunteers engage students by sharing their professional stories with students in order to get them to understand how it applies to them. The best part is parents can integrate this technique with their child, and teachers can incorporate it in their classroom. For an inside look, this is what a teacher had to say about this real-world connection concept: “Finding real-world connections to student projects is largely a matter of perception. To an adult, the “real world” is work and economics. To a kid, the “real world” is the playground when the supervisor is looking the other way.”

Innately, the middle-schoolers in your life will be drawn to these topics because they will apply to them; they will sense that something is at stake. The role you play is by connecting with them in a way that brings in the reality of their upcoming financial milestones with the importance of what they can do now to prepare.

Reaching Milestones

While their milestones may be happening in the next 3 to 8 years, it’s essential that you; as a mentor, parent, teacher, or role-model; continue to encourage and motivate the child looking up to you. As they achieve small goals while striving toward a big milestone, be sure to talk with them about what they did and how they are one step closer to reaching their primary objective. Even as adults, it takes a lot to continue your motivation to a goal that seems so far away. But with a little (or a lot) of help by those who we care and trust, it becomes more manageable.

To assist the middle-schooler in your life, check out JA Economics for Success®, where students learn about choosing the right career and managing money properly.


Elementary Milestones for Future Success

From Kindergarten to fifth-grade, most children do not have a clear understanding of finances or money in general. What they learn at this stage in life are concepts that will continue to build as they grow older. While at this stage in their lives, they don’t have bills or loans to worry about, it puts their financial future on the horizon and gives them something to think about as they get older.

To put your child ahead of the curve, there are countless ways to introduce every-day transactions and learning-moments! Here are the primary milestones that elementary students are struggling with and ways that you can get your child more confident with outside of the classroom:

Grocery Store

While at the grocery store or any place of business, there are tons of opportunities to show your child the thought process and money concepts you use to make your decisions. Be sure to take a few seconds when you’re deciding between two items to discuss what you are using to determine which product or service is better than the other and why you are choosing a particular one. As you go down an aisle that contains products that are not a necessity but are something you want, discuss the difference between needs and wants. Include how by picking a want you may be sacrificing another product that was also want (or even a need) on your list, explain that this concept is called opportunity cost.

Once your shopping trip has been brought to the register, note that while you know everything has a cost, your child might not. Explain to him or her that all of the products you picked up at the store have a cost as well as taxes that are added to them. The taxes that are included are called sales tax, which states and local governments impose that help pay for schools, roads, police and fire departments. While the concept of taxes goes far deeper than this, it will begin to create the foundation for further growth and understanding in the future. This is also a perfect time to explain to your child what method of payment you are choosing and why. This will get him or her more familiar with money options available in the economy.



Before exposing your child to the concepts or mortgage companies, credit unions, and investment banks, start with the primary institution where money is held, your local bank or even internet banking app. This is the heart of financial literacy as children learn how savings, currency, deposits, and types of money typically start their journey here.

Tell your child what you want to accomplish while you are at the bank and what you will have to do in order to accomplish this goal. When depositing a check, tell your child about the deposit form you fill out and what it will do when it is processed through the system.This is also a great time to set your child up with a savings account; this will teach him or her that it is never too early to start and that by beginning early, they are preparing for their future.



Finally, after the trip to the bank and the grocery store, you’re home. The place where families come together to discuss their day, what they did, learned, and what they are excited for in the future. This is the perfect place for conversations of budgeting/money management and charitable giving goals!

A survey conducted by the American Psychology Association found that 95% of those surveyed believe parents should talk to their children about money, yet only 64% said they were taught to manage money correctly, and 37% responded that they speak with their family members on the subject of money. There lies an area of opportunity for you and your family to come together.

Budgeting is one of the most important pieces when it comes to financial success. Creating a budget, managing the budget, and sticking with the budget. Bring your children into the conversation when you are creating the family budget. If you don’t create one, now would be a great time to start! Include all of the living expenses like home/mortgage, utilities, car costs, insurance, etc. From there examine what is being spent on the non-urgent resources included in your family’s every-day living. By doing this, you’re not only enlightening your child to the real world of the expense of life, but you are also enabling them to start a habit of their budgeting and saving for the future.

If your child receives an allowance, be sure to convey that while their money circulates throughout the world, it is in their hands to determine what to do with it. Are they wanting to spend it, save it, or perhaps give it to a charity? These money decisions should be your child’s as they worked for it. Be sure to provide them with some advice as to what it could go towards long-term versus short-term, or what it could accomplish by assisting an organization that seeks to make changes locally or globally.

With all of these opportunities to share your knowledge of money with your elementary school child, you are not only arming him or her with the knowledge to make better decisions for the future, but you are assisting them to develop on concepts that are crucial to future development.

For a list of resources for your elementary school student, check out JA’s programs here!

Tariff 101

What are Tariffs?

Tariffs are one of the oldest forms of regulated trade policy, as it places a tax on imported goods between two parties to regulate foreign trade to encourage or safeguard domestic industries through reducing the importation of a specific type of product.

The History Behind Tariffs

While you may have been hearing more talk of tariffs in the news, this is not the first time it has been front- and- center. Let’s go back to the mid-1760s when American colonists were struggling with trade policy specifically from the “motherland,” Great Britain. As the colonists were establishing themselves in “the new world,” Great Britain charged Americans high rates for goods that were in demand, such as glass, paper, tea, paint, etc. as well as printed products (The Stamp Act of 1765). Pretty random items to require a tax for, right? This was due to British Parliamentarian Charles Townshend’s belief that these items would be difficult for the colonists to produce on their own. This fee that was implemented by Great Britain to the colonists is known as the 1767 Townshend Acts.

You can imagine, the colonists were not happy to pay more taxes on goods. Other than boycotting the British products, the colonists’ frustrations soon reached an all-time high, and the gauntlet was dropped in 1770 when the “Boston Massacre” occurred during a protest of British tax laws. Eventually, Britain redacted the taxes it had imposed on all items, except for tea, which was a massive deal to the colonists as they drank 1.2 million pounds of it a year!

In May of 1773, it was official; the Tea Act was implemented, which meant that though the British East India Company was able to sell duty-free tea for less than other tea sold, the colonists still had to pay a tax when the tea reached the colonial ports. Enter the original rebellious and patriotic group of colonists—the Sons of Liberty (SOL). SOL demanded that the ships carrying tea return to England without unloading their shipments and without money from taxation, but the Governor and Chief of Justices of Massachusetts rejected their proposal and refused to permit the ships to return to England until the matter was resolved. The conflict erupted into more than 300 chests of tea being thrown overboard into the Boston Harbor, the Boston Tea Party.

Years later, Congress would pass the Tariff Act of 1789, which planned to raise revenues to benefit the “new government” by placing a tax (or tariff) on the importation of foreign goods, this act also aimed to encourage the states to increase domestic production in industries like glass and pottery by taxing the import of these goods from foreign countries.

The last significant chapter in Tariff history occurred more than 100 years later, in the early 1900s. Through the integration of the income tax and the immense industrial expansion in the 1800s, the government no longer needed tariffs to fund the federal government, nor did the U.S. need to protect its industry from foreign competition. This brings us to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act signed by President Herbert Hoover. This act sought to increase import “duties” (taxes) by an average rate of 20 percent. Through the struggles of the Stock Market Crash in 1929, the government was determined to protect American farmers from the economic shock caused by the Great Depression. In retrospect most economists agree Smoot-Hawley deepened the depression and counter legislation to reduce the impact of the tariffs was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934.

The history of Tariffs goes way back to the beginning of the United States as it intertwines in the historical events you still remember from your high school history class.

To learn more about tariffs and their impact, check out JA Global Marketplace®

Credit Card Crash Course

Not all credit cards are created equal, which makes choosing one a difficult task.

As of March 2019, Americans paid banks a shocking $113 billion in credit card interest in 2018. While your credit card activities may differ from your colleague or classmate, one thing is for sure—understanding the way your credit card works is a crucial component to any credit holder.

Pick the Right Card

Although the flashy commercials are dazzling, they shouldn’t sway you into choosing a card just because your favorite celebrity is representing it. You need to consider what you will be using the card for. The list of credit cards available is endless ranging from cards that cater to balance transfers, low-interest rates, cash back, reward points, gas points, and more!

When examining cards, be sure to look at the Introductory Offer APR as well as what the APR will be once the Introductory time-period has concluded. While a 0% Introductory APR may sound appealing, be sure the APR that follows is within reason for you and your income.

To help you explore the cards that are best for your goals, check out NerdWallet! You can compare and deep-dive into the specifics of each card that you’re interested in!

Consider Your Credit

In the united states, the average score for those who are 18 – 29-years-old have a FICO score of 659, 30-39-year-olds have an average of 677, followed by 40-49-year-olds with a FICO score of 690. For most of those who are 20 or younger, the concept of credit score may be foreign, so here is the best (and simplest) explanation: Your credit score is a number that helps lenders (money-lending institutions) determine how likely it is that they will receive the money they lend you, on time. Seems simple enough, right? Be warned, this one number reflects multiple factors of your money history including your total debt (should you have any), the types of credit accounts you have, the number of late payments, how many credit checks you have requested, as well as the age of the credit card accounts. Here comes the kicker, FICO is not the only type of credit bureaus that utilize credit scores. There is a total of 5 you should be aware of. Here are the five and the credit score ranges they use:

-    FICO: 300 – 850

-    Experian: 330 – 830

-    Equifax: 300 – 850

-    TransUnion: 300 – 850

-    VantageScore: 501 – 990

How to Understand Schumer’s Box (aka the card information pamphlet)

Break out your reading glasses because when it comes to credit cards, you will want to read the fine print. While the example below doesn’t go through every single term you will see as you read through the fees and other credit card specifics, it should give you enough information to compare and contrast the credit cards you are considering.

Before running off to explore the world of credit, here are some FAQs you may find helpful:

Why is introductory APR even a thing?

The 0% catches your attention, doesn’t it? You won’t have to pay any interest on the money you owe for 12 to 18 months! Who wouldn’t want to start the paperwork?! Before you sign on the dotted line, lenders use these attractive offers to get you to switch cards. If you don’t pay off all your card once the introductory period ends, you could get hit with a fee.


Why do I even need a credit card?

You’ve heard the horror stories from parents, friends, and even movies. So why should you even get a credit card? At the most basic level, credit cards are a great way to earn rewards from purchases you would have made anyway with a debit card or cash. They can also help you build credit so when the time comes you want a new car or a home, you will have a score to back up your money habits to the lender.


What if I don’t have any credit?

For those without any credit, you will find it more challenging to be approved for a card to help you build the credit you need. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can position yourself:

  1. Apply for a Secured Credit Card: these are cards that are “backed” by a cash deposit you will make at the beginning. The deposit amount typically is the same amount as the card’s credit limit.
  1. Co-Signer: For someone without any credit, lenders are wanting to have more confidence in getting their money back. This is where a co-signer comes in handy. Essentially a co-signer, someone with good credit, takes responsibility for you if you fail to pay back the money borrowed to the lender.
  1. Authorized User on a Card: If you have a family member or significant other that would like to assist in your credit building efforts, this may be your best bet! Not only can you use the card as if it is your own, but you will also be able to build credit. The one downside most credit card holders have in adding an authorized user is the authorized user is not legally obligated to pay for the charges.


What if I am a minor?

When applying for credit cards you will find to apply, you will need to be 18 or older. An option to begin building credit under the age of 18 may include becoming an authorized user on a guardian’s card. As mentioned above, this method may be riskier for the original card holder as the authorized user may not be legally obligated to pay for the charges.


To learn more about responsible money management, check out the “My Money” section of the Junior Achievement website www.JAMyWay.org.



5 Benefits of Hiring a Student Intern

With summer on the horizon, high school and college students are already thinking about their next step—internships. While college students may be viewing an internship as a foot-in to a career after they graduate, high school students are seeking internships to discover what career path they may want to pursue in the future.

The benefits of interning as a student are endless, but what do these young professionals have to offer to your company?

Determine Staff Demands for the Future

Small projects that would take only a few months are better suited for someone such as an intern than for an individual seeking full-time work. Most departments have had various job tasks that have driven managers to contemplate adding a position to the team. With an intern, these tasks will not only provide full-spectrum learning opportunities, but they will also help you to determine the demands of unassigned tasks. Should one duty take more time or demand more than expected, you will be able to plan (and budget) for future hiring opportunities.

Future Colleague

Do you remember that one job you hated? How about the one you loved? Your interns will be processing their internship the same way you have with your previous jobs. Should your company make it an enjoyable and multi-beneficial experience, you could be looking at your future hire. After all, they’ll be learning your company culture, services or products…and you…as their internship progresses.

Gain New Ideas

The corporate mindset can get all of us stuck in mindsets that limit creativity. Bringing in an intern could provide your company with fresh and trendy new concepts that could change your company for the better. Once you have an intern, encourage him or her to attend meetings and then to debrief with their supervisor should they have any feedback or ideas.

Support Local High Schools

Building relationships in your community is a great way to get your brand out in the public for FREE. What better way than to offer internship experiences to your local high school students who are preparing for college or a trade school?

Word of Mouth

Hiring an intern provides your company with the opportunity to be talked about. If your organization is offering the best setting for an intern, they will be sure to convey their positive feelings to their peers, family and, family!

Think your company could inspire today’s youth into your industry? Check out JA Job Shadow®!

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