FINANCIAL ALGEBRA

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The class is broken into 8 major units, Careers, Federal Income Tax System, Personal Budgeting, Personal Checking, Banking and Saving, Investing and the Stock Market, Credit Management, and Benefits of Insurance.  Each unit has a project which involves some research and a final report.

ASSIGNMENT CALENDAR

During the first week interpersonal and human relations skills are covered. Students learn about themselves and their fellow classmates by taking the Keirsey Temperament Inventory and a Values Inventory. They are divided into groups and given a case study which will test the commitment to their values. The catch is every student in the group must agree with the consensus decision of the group. The case study is designed to create a volatile discussion which forces the students to realize everyone has a different personality and value system and that with those differences people can work together to achieve a consensus decision. Relationships between coworkers and employers are also discussed.

EMPLOYMENT BASICS

This is the first unit covered. We will discuss the process of job choice and the factors which affect career choice.  Sources of job information will be introduced as well as job search techniques. Job search tools such as an application letter, resume, employment application and thank-you letters will be thoroughly covered. Employment, workers compensation, and social security laws will be touched upon. The students will be required to research a career and present their research orally to the class. They will also have to write a realistic letter of application and resume, and identify a minimum of six personal references. They will be required to fill out a Form W-4 and learn about their pay, including computing gross pay, payroll tax deductions, and optional deductions to determine net pay.  They will be required to complete, without error, an employee payroll deduction form.

INCOME TAXES

This is the second unit covered. We will discuss the purpose, types, and history of taxes in the United States as well as examine all sides of the current tax issues being debated today. The student will learn basic tax terminology such as exemptions, dependents, gross income, adjusted gross income, taxable income, and learn to read a Form W-2.  The final exam for this unit puts the student in the role as a tax preparer where they will be required to complete, without error, a Form 1040EZ, and a Form 1040A with Schedules B and Form 2441.

PREPARE A BUDGET

During this unit, the student will be exposed to personal budgets, personal net worth statements, and personal property inventories. We will discuss the basics of contracts, negotiable instruments, warranties, and maintaining a personal filing system. The students will be asked to take a realistic look at their own personal finances and develop a budget, net worth statement, and personal property inventory. A large percentage of students, after completing this unit, discover money they didn't have and want to open a savings account or increase the amount of money they put into savings. The student will be given a set of artificial parameters and have to develop a budget within those parameters and create a display board for this unit's project.

BANKING SERVICES

In this unit we discuss the goals of savings, savings options, and how money compounds. An in depth look of the time value of money is given. We will compare and contrast the different financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, and savings and loans. The students will be required to define their long term financial goals and then develop a plan to achieve them emphasizing the things which need to be accomplished short term. This project for this unit will be a checkbook simulation. The simulation consists of eight months worth of transactions which require the student to fill out checks and deposit slips, endorse deposited checks, maintain a check register, and reconcile eight bank statements. The simulation also includes several true to life corrections which can easily cause a mistake if the student is not paying attention. We also talk about several myths associated with checking such as; "If you have checks you have money.", "The ATM balance is always correct.", or "The balance on the bank statement and in the check register should agree."

THE STOCK MARKET

In this unit we will discuss the need for, as well as, the risks of investing and also go over wise investment strategies.  These strategies will include buying on margin, selling short, diversification and dollar cost averaging. The students will be introduced to stocks, bonds, futures, and mutual funds. We will do an in depth study of calculating return on investment in a multitude of situations. The student will learn to read the financial information from a variety of sources.  They will be required to compile a portfolio of three stocks (one must be sell), one bond, and two future (one must be long and the other short).  In the portfolio the student will have to track their investments for 15 days and make daily calculations of net worth for each investment. The final product will be typed and include a graph of each of each investment. It will also include a narrative summary of articles from the various financial sources explaining why the investment went up and/or down.

CONSUMER CREDIT

In this unit we take a brief look at the history of credit then an in depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of credit. The different kinds of credit as well as the sources of credit will be discussed. We will examine credit records, creditworthiness, credit ratings, and credit laws. The students will be required to know the costs of credit. That is, they will understand APR and how the finance charge is calculated using the adjusted balance method, previous balance method, and average daily balance method. We will also discuss how to avoid unnecessary credit costs.

INSURANCE

In this unit we take a look at the function and purpose of insurance and the four main types of consumer insurance; homeowners, automobile, health and life.

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