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Welcome to Saving, the third course in a six-part curriculum focused on personal finance and financial literacy. For directions on how to teach the curriculum, see How to Use This Curriculum.

Goals and Outcomes

These are concepts students should learn and understand upon completion of this course and the final project. All outcomes align with the National Standards for Financial Literacy:

  • When you have money, you have control over how you want to spend it. Some people tend to be more focused on the short term, choosing immediate spending over saving for the future.
  • Inflation reduces the value of money, including savings. The real interest (as opposed to nominal) rate expresses the rate of return on savings, taking into account the effect of inflation.
  • Real interest rates are typically positive. Higher interest rates increase the rewards for saving, which motivates people to defer spending their savings in the short term.
  • The nominal interest rate tells savers how the dollar value of their savings or investments will grow; the real interest rate tells savers how the purchasing power of their savings or investments will grow after accounting for (expected) inflation.
  • Money received (or paid) in the future can be compared with money held today by discounting the future value based on the rate of interest.
  • Government policies create incentives and disincentives for people to save.
  • Employer benefit programs also create incentives and disincentives to save. Whether or how much an employee decides to save can depend on how their employer presents these programs.


This is the first introduction to the topic. It’s meant to get students thinking and asking questions. Before you dive into the outline and requirements for the final project, facilitate an open discussion with your students based on the video The Short Answer: How to Create a Budget. This Morningstar-produced video sparks questions around why we pay taxes and why keeping cash in an emergency fund is important. After students watch the video, allow time for them to ask questions and discuss whatever comes to mind, either in a large group conversation facilitated by the teacher or in partner discussions. Here are some suggestions to get the discussion started:

  • Who is Uncle Sam and why does he get part of your paycheck? What will your salary be after taxes?
  • What other types of deductions can be taken out of your paycheck? (Example: health insurance and retirement plan contributions)
  • What expenses are important or necessary enough to you that you’re inclined to spend money rather than save it?
  • What things do you want to plan and save for, both now and in the future?
  • Do you have or use a budgeting system or plan?


To gauge students’ baseline understanding of the topics outlined in this course’s goals and outcomes––and to serve as a benchmark for your lesson plans––have students complete this question-based activity on their own. This activity shouldn’t be graded.

Download the Worksheet
Get the Saving Pre-Assessment Worksheet PDF.

Final Project

After completing the activities for Earning Income and Buying Goods and Services, students can now create a monthly budget based on their projected income, lifestyle, and how much they plan to spend on necessities and other expenses. Students should use what they've learned from those activities to complete this budgeting worksheet for their final project.

Download the Worksheet
Get the Saving Final Project Worksheet PDF.

Checks for Understanding

To be able to complete the final project (and the course itself), students must be able to answer these questions through personal research and any lessons provided in class. These questions are in order of how they should be researched and “checked” by the teacher/facilitator. We’ve provided articles as a starting point, but students can do additional research on these concepts as they see fit.

  1. Based on the career path chosen, what is your potential annual income?


  2. Give an example of a time in your life when you decided to buy something immediately and then wished you had saved the money for something else instead.  What are some common rules or tips related to saving? (Example: Save at least 10% to 30% of your income monthly; have an emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses; take advantage of your company’s 401(k) match if available)


  3. Why do savers expect a higher nominal interest rate when inflation is expected to be high?


  4. How can saving money now result in getting more goods and services in the future?


  5. How do traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs provide incentives for people to save?


About the Authors

Harron Young is an associate equity research analyst for Morningstar and a former third-grade math teacher with Teach for America. She has a master’s degree in business administration.
Jessica Gibson is a credit ratings analyst for Morningstar and former first- and second-grade teacher with Teach for America. She has a master’s degree in urban education, with a focus on administration and policy.


Lead content strategist: Courey Gruszauskas
Editor: Karen Wallace

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