Needs, Wants, & Finances – Studying Economics with Boundary Stone

My son will be a junior this fall and has expressed a growing interest in economics. He loves watching YouTube videos that explain supply and demand – particularly in relation to aviation and luxury cars.

Knowing that government and economics are required courses for high school students in Oregon, I was eager to find a curriculum that was both engaging and informative. Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics fit the bill.

This post is sponsored by Boundary Stone. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and a positive review was not required.
As always, I only review products that I find useful and think you will enjoy!

When the kids were younger, we enjoyed listening to the audio book, Smart Money, Smart Kids, by Dave Ramsay. It provided a good starting point and from there we developed a financial plan for our family.

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Earning Commissions

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Developing Entrepreneurs

While Ramsey’s resources provided an introduction to finances – which we circle back to often as things come up – I knew we needed something more. We need the bigger picture of how our family resources fit into the puzzle of global economics.

Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics Course

I selected Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics course. I liked that it offered both an asynchronous / self-paced online course (with embedded videos and quizzes) and a physical textbook (a chronological presentation of information with glossary and index for easy reference).

When you flip through this book you will see no math, and very few graphs. The focus is on ideas.

What’s Included:

  • Basic Economics 4th ed. textbook
  • Student access to online course for full year
  • Student access to Budget mini-course

Basic Economics includes 4 units of study divided into 6 modules. Each module is further subdivided into daily lessons for a total of 79 lessons. Used together with Government, Basic Economics would provide a full year of high school credit.

The course builds on what you should have covered previously in Boundary Stone’s government class.

We did not begin with the government class as we had covered this topic previously but I can see how it would have been beneficial to review. The two courses are offered in a bundle. This makes planning a full year of high school social science courses easy.

Benefits of Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics course

As a Dave Ramsey fan, I loved the term project whereby my son had to prepare two personal monthly budgets. One used a salary of $25,000 and a second used minimum wage. This was an eye opener for him and provided us the opportunity to discuss payroll withholding, housing options, loans, car ownership, insurance, and more.

The Budget Project’s real-life budget project, offered as a free mini-course, is a great balance to the faith-based textbook. It can be used as a stand-alone project. However, using it alongside the online course you will need to account for one day per week in your schedule.

I also like that the course includes a hardbound book. He gets so much screen time as it is. I appreciate that he can read the assigned chapters the “old fashioned” way, in print. I encouraged him to take notes as he read and to use the Getting the Point questions to ensure he understood the concepts. We also went through the review questions at the end of each chapter together so I could stay abreast of his progress.

Boundary Stone also has bundles designed for homeschool co-op teachers. These include multi-print licenses for the government study guide. The economics study guide can be found in the textbook.

Boundary Stone’s homeschool Economics curriculum also incorporates online lessons, videosand outside reading in addition to the textbook (which is lacking in color and photos). This adds that little spice and helps ensure students are engaged.

Tell Me More

Upon purchase, students have access to the online material for 12 months. Students have the freedom to develop a schedule of their own and to work through the course at their own pace. If you follow the suggested syllabus the course can be completed in a single semester. If you go at your own pace, the 12 month window is still generous.

Allowing a student to work at his own pace is important to me. It gives them control over their schedule and allows them a sense of autonomy. The quizzes though are limited by time and can only be completed once. This may be a concern for students that have processing delays.

The online lessons keep track of where he left off which makes it easy to pick it up again the next day or so. Once he has completed everything in the lesson, he marks it complete. When he takes a quiz, an email with his score is emailed to me.

An optional teacher’s guide (including an answer key) is also available as a digital download. It includes lesson plans that are very similar to the layout of the online course, however it lacks the linked articles and embedded videos.  

Using each component will transform the textbook into a comprehensive course, deeply based on both Christian and free-market principles. Boundary Stone’s economics course is based on the premise that our rights come from God. It follows the premise that we have rights, those rights come from God, and we need to protect our God-given rights.

Boundary Stone Giveaway!

If you’re looking for an online economics curriculum for high school, you can’t miss Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics for high school.

Use coupon code StoneReward2020 to receive 15% off all purchases through 8/23/2020.

Teaching Our Teens About Money – Part 2: Developing Entrepreneurs

My parents were in many ways great role models. In addition to hard work, my parents instilled within me the drive to seek out creative ways to earn money.

You might also be interested in my earlier posts, Lessons Learned from My Mother & Lessons Learned from My Father

When I was a little girl, my two younger brothers and I would periodically set up a lemonade and craft booth in front of our house. We lived in a small coastal community and our home was on a main street through town. The majority of our customers were tourists and I remember fondly, when one group of young cyclists offered to pay us with Canadian money – we were overjoyed! Their money was so different from our own!

We never made a lot of money but it was a fun way to pass the leisurely hours of the summer. The money we did earn we split evenly between the three of us and generally spent it on candy at Wilson’s Market up the hill.

Last week I spoke about how teens can earn commissions doing work around the house. Today, I wanted to share with you ideas for developing entrepreneurs.

Creative Entrepreneurs

Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to think of a new idea to make money. It just means you need to find a way to make money doing something you love. You have to think out of the box a little.

You’re never too young to develop your talents and, in turn, make money from your skills. ~ Dave Ramsey

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net

Jeffrey is shown here constructing several Mason Bee Nesting Boxes. He was very successful at the Earth Day festival, selling his entire inventory.

At a local Earth Day fair earlier this year, the kids set up a booth to share with the community the efforts we had undertaken as part of our Roots & Shoots club. In addition to showcasing the projects we had undertaken (primarily our Bottle Cap Mural still underway), each of the kids developed a product that demonstrated their knowledge of and passion for the environment.

The previous year, our club had created Insect Hotels. Jeffrey shared that he had really enjoyed this project and wanted to make a difference for pollinators like the Mason Bee. He thereby reached out to his papa one weekend when we were visiting to procure the wood he would need to make a half dozen nesting boxes. He brought the cut pieces home and began to construct the boxes. He sanded down the rough edges, nailed the pieces together, and finally filled the interior space with nesting material.

Geneva had borrowed a book from the library some time ago, Terrarium Craft, and was intrigued with both the simplicity and beauty. When we began to plan our booth space for the Earth Day fair, she expressed interest in creating terrariums similar to those she had enjoyed in the book. She thereafter ordered a variety of air plants and a half dozen glass terrariums from wholesale vendors online.

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Developing Entrepreneurs @EvaVarga.net

As an extension of our nature studies, Geneva created several beautiful glass terrariums and was also very successful selling these at the Earth Day festival.

There are thousands of ways to make money doing something you love. As we listened to the book Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze in August, we spent time brainstorming more ideas for each of our kids – ideas that they were both capable of doing and that were of interest to them. Here’s just a few of the services and products that they came up with:

  • Babysitting
  • Pet Care
  • Insect Hotels
  • Terrariums
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Auto Detailing
  • Play Piano at a Dinner Party
  • Baked Goods (cupcakes, cookies, etc.)
  • Wild Organic Herbs
  • Create an iPhone App
  • Upcycle

Many of their ideas require very little startup costs. I am particularly impressed with their creativity. Regardless of what avenue they choose, I encouraged them to use a notebook to keep track of their progress.

After listening to Smart Money Smart Kids and our family brainstorm in early August, Geneva has grabbed onto an idea and has shown remarkable resolve. She won’t allow me to reveal what she is working on but I can share a few of the steps she has taken in pursuit of her new passion.

She set up a binder to keep track of everything including the name and the graphics she has created for her business, a list of products she plans to offer, market research she has done (comparable prices, etc.), materials needed, and of course, expenses.

As part of her market research, she created a survey using Google Docs and spent a morning at a local farmer’s market to poll the community. While she wasn’t able to use an electronic device as planned (no wifi), she sat down later and entered all their responses by hand into the document to create a spreadsheet of her results. As an introvert, I was very impressed that she followed through. I can’t wait to see how far she takes her project!

 

Teaching Our Teens About Money – Part 1: Earning Commissions (free printable)

We all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution — even kids. “But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family,” states parenting experts Foster Cline and Jim Fay.

We’ve followed the Love & Logic philosophy since the kids were toddlers. While we haven’t always been consistent in all disciplines, the one strategy that really struck a cord with us was in regards to chores.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.netThere is so much power to an effective chores system. Even the words you use to discuss chores with your child impacts how she perceives the activity and experiences the “lesson”. So, for example, Love & Logic suggests referring to daily “chores” like making the bed, picking up your room, and helping to set the table as “contributions”.

Family Contributions

Contributions are part of being a family, of being valued and needed, and working together to make a household function well. The approach, a simple change in language, considers the family unit and the home in a way that is sure to cultivate a respect and responsibility for these things over the long term.

Chores are something everyone in the family does to contribute to the family.  They are part of being needed and valued by the family.  Chores teach responsibility.

Since they were toddlers, the kids have contributed to the needs of the family. We all do our part to help things run smoothly. Here is a list of their daily responsibilities:

• Keeping up with their schoolwork and completing the assigned tasks each week
• Pet care (daily feeding and cleaning of cages)
• Making their bed and keeping their room orderly / picked up
• Putting their school materials & swim gear put away properly
• Cleaning up after themselves (putting their art materials away when finished with them, for example)
• Helping to carry in groceries and put them away properly
• Clearing their setting and cleaning up after meals
• Keeping their bathroom tidy
• Personal care daily

Their failure to follow through may forfeit their earnings that week. This is not to say there are not roadblocks and pot-holes along the way, but we strive to make improvements individually and as a family.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.netEarning Commissions

Parents are not just responsible for providing food, clothing, and shelter for their kids. They are also responsible for teaching their kids about life—and life includes handling money.

Guiding your children in the choices they make with money is HUGE! The lessons you teach them as they earn money and learn to spend, save and give will lay an influential foundation for their lives. ~ Dave Ramsey

You can begin to teach kids about money as young as pre-school age; here are 9 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money. Just think about it: if your kids can grasp this money stuff early on, they’ll avoid many of the pitfalls later.

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net

 

—> Download the free Earning Commissions printable here! <—

 

In addition to their contributions or responsibilities to the family, our kids have many opportunities to earn commissions. As they have gotten older, the jobs have increased in time input and difficulty (and thereby also pay a larger commission).

In the infographic above, you can see the variety of ways in which our kids can earn commissions. Pay has been negotiated over the years and is related to the time in which it takes to complete the job. The jobs with an asterisk are required. As such, three of these jobs are assigned to each child every week. The other jobs are optional.

We certainly are not confined by this list. Additional jobs and opportunities arise throughout the course of the year. The kids have even worked on commission for their grandparents undertaking a variety of tasks. Friends of ours have farm animals and responsibilities associated with life on a farm.

How about you? In what ways have your children earned spending money?

Join me next week as I share with you creative ways kids can boost their earning power with entrepreneurial efforts.

Smart Money, Smart Kids: How We’ve Applied Dave Ramsey Strategies to Our Life

Patrick and I have always been careful with our finances. Making smart money decisions has not always been easy, however. I had a significant amount of credit card debt in college. When we married, we vowed not to let debt break us. In fact, we even lived with Patrick’s parents for three years as we paid off our college loans!

About a year ago, we started listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts. Hearing couples and families all over the country scream, “I’m debt free!” has been really inspiring. I love his Seven Baby Steps. We’ve been working on steps 4 (savings for retirement) and 5 (college funding) simultaneously for years – even before we knew of Dave Ramsey.

Smart Money Smart Kids: Applying Dave Ramsey Strategies to Our Life @EvaVarga.netWhile we were living in Redding, we were renting so step 6 (paying off house) didn’t really apply to us. Now that we’ve moved back to Oregon and are in the process of buying a home once more, we have made owning our home outright a family priority. Our goal is to pay off our home before the kids begin college full-time. That gives us just 5 years!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be describing how we have applied Dave Ramsey strategies to our life. I begin today with the resources we’ve used getting started. 

Money Smart Kids

Dave Ramsey has written many books on personal finance and budgeting. Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money is the first book written with his daughter, Rachel. In his usual writing style, Dave presents a no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is guide to raising money-smart kids. His daughter offers story after story of what life was like growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter. I just loved her! Her stories give the book humor and soften Dave’s usual dry approach.

We listened to the audio version while traveling to Portland with the kiddos several weeks ago. We have been using many of the strategies he describes such as:

  • Not giving the kids an allowance but expecting them to earn their own money by doing work (Dave calls this “earning a commission”)
  • Expecting them to save and pay for things they want

We’d stop the audio periodically on our trip and talk over the points presented. My son’s ears perked up when he heard of Dave’s 401 plan. When your teenager starts driving and wants his own car, the money the child has saved for this purchase is matched dollar for dollar. In other words, if your teen saves $5,000, then you match them with $5,000, and they can buy a $10,000 car.

My son quickly asked, “Instead of buying a car, would you match the money I save to buy a grand piano?” Absolutely little man. Absolutely.

Our conversations quickly evolved into brainstorming entrepreneurial ideas. “I’m only 10 years old! How can I make money?” Next week, I will share some of the creative ideas we came up with – ways kids can earn money of their own.

Personal Finance Course

Throughout his books and podcasts, Dave recommends his other publications and materials. I was certainly intrigued when I learned of his Foundations in Personal Finance, a high school personal finance course designed specifically for homeschoolers.

Much to my delight, this product was recently available for a significant discount through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. While the offer has now expired, they have invited him to return. You can request a reminder from the co-op when they offer is available again.

Please note, as my kids are only 8th and 6th grades, we aren’t using this material presently. However, we look forward to implementing this curriculum in a few years.

Related Posts:

We Have Enough .. Our Efforts in Frugality

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Lessons Learned from my Father

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Years ago, we sat down together as a family and composed our family mission statement:

We are committed to being happy and enjoying a more simplified life; and agree to hold ourselves and each other accountable to attitudes and behaviors that support those outcomes.

We revisit our mission statement periodically during our family meetings and are continually striving to live a more balanced, joyful lifestyle. One of the topics that has come up often is our desire as a family to return home to Oregon.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness @EvaVarga.netOur parents are aging and are in need of our help. We want to be there for them. Though we make trips home regularly – it just isn’t enough. The kids long to have a stronger bond with their grandparents. My husband had thereby been actively seeking work in Oregon over the past year. As a hospital administrator, the opportunities were rare.

In early May, we talked about the possibility of looking at pharmacy positions and stepping away from hospital administration. This would be a huge change for him professionally and a decision he would have to make on his own. I assured him we would stand behind him no matter the path he chose to follow.

A few weeks later, he came home from work one evening and stated, “I’m ready to look at alternatives. I am open to the possibility of returning to pharmacy.” No sooner did he make this decision and he received a phone call from a former colleague who shared that he would be retiring. “Would you like your Pharmacy Director position again?

Coincidentally, we had plans to be in Oregon that weekend and thus he made arrangements to interview. They offered him the job that afternoon and our world was sent spinning.

We debated if this was the right decision for us as a family. My daughter spoke eloquently, “I want the dad I have when we are on vacation. I want you to be present. I think we should try this, Dad. If this doesn’t work, we can try something else.

Stepping down from a career path he had worked so hard for was the bravest thing he could have done. It wasn’t an easy decision yet we have been working towards a more joyful life for years.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness

Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the 4 most important things we have done to simplify our life:

1. Eliminate Possessions

Keep Only What Brings You Joy – Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values.

My son seems to have learned this lesson early in life. His only “toys” are Lego and HO trains. Though they have taken over his room – two tables take up the entire floor space for his Lego city – there is little else other than a book shelf (one shelf is dedicated to Lego – books, catalogs, magazines, and instruction manuals) and his dresser.

Invest the time to remove non-essential possessions from your life. For inspiration, consider reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing On the same note, stop buying things that you don’t need.

Downsize – All the while we have lived in Redding, we have rented our home rather than buying. The repairs, lawn care, and maintenance are someone else’s problem, not ours. As a result, we have had more time to travel and enjoy quality time with one another.

While a rental is not as readily available where we are moving, as we have toured homes and considered purchasing a home again, we have considered only what we need. There are some magnificent homes on the market. As a family of four, we really don’t need a 4 or 5K square foot home.

We selected a home that reminds us a lot of the home we once owned in Bend. It has a slightly smaller footprint but it is enough. Presently it has a lawn, but we’ve decided to move forward with a xeriscaping plan to reduce the need for supplemental water from irrigation and maintenence.

2. Get Organized

A Place for Everything – Assigning a place for each object simplifies life dramatically. As described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it is a key component in making a space less frustrating and more beautiful.

Streamline your Finances – If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Do what you need to do to get out from under its weight.

We’ve had just one credit card these past 10 years. We use it for most all our expenses and thereby capitalize on the rewards structure. Most importantly, we pay it off each month.

Relatedly, our vehicles are paid for and we are not encumbered by monthly payments. Our only expenses are our monthly living expenses. We set aside a significant portion of our earnings to a college savings plan, our retirement fund, and of course our vacation savings.

We have only recently discovered Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” and I highly recommend his podcast. I look forward to using his Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money with the kids as we jump into the “Baby Steps” ourselves.

3. Simplify Relationships

Reduce Negative Thoughts – Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for anyone. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say and avoid gossip.

Without going into detail – there have been multiple occasions when others have said hurtful things to me or my husband. On occasion, when I catch myself thinking poorly of that person, I’ll stop and remind myself that it really doesn’t matter. What is important is how I feel about myself.

Strengthen Relationships or Let Them Go – Make the effort to spend time with people you like. Do not waste time keeping up with friends who bring you down or bore you. This applies to work as well. Don’t be afraid to seek out new career options if you are not happy or you don’t feel valued in your present job.

Surround yourself with people who bring you joy. Life is too short to get caught up in the drama.

Our 4 Steps on the Pursuit of Happiness @EvaVarga.net4. Slow Down

Screen Time – Television, movies, video games, and technology can rearrange your values. It can dominate your life and have a profound impact on your attitude. When we moved to Redding four years ago, we made the decision to eliminate television from our home. We thereby haven’t had cable for four years and haven’t missed it.

Technology is still a major component of our life, however. It is critical for the kids’ Mandarin lessons and for my work as a blogger.  We try to minimize our screen time and though we can still make improvements in this area, we are getting better at recognizing when it begins to affect our attitude.

Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

We have had to reevaluate this on a few occasions to avoid burnout (see my earlier post, I Am Not a Soccer Mom: How to Avoid Child Burnout). We try our best to create a balance between extracurricular activities and family life.

Sometimes it requires us to make tough decisions when conflicts arise – Do you want to go to the Junior Olympics (swim meet) or Sons of Norway heritage camp? We allow the kids to make this decision for themselves. We discuss our goals and values openly as a family.

I do my best to create a healthy balance; often setting aside personal goals (marathon training) and choosing to work on only one or two at a time. I want my children to be lifelong readers and to develop their music and language skills daily. I thereby try to model this as often as possible – setting aside 30 minutes each day to work on my own language skills, conversing with those who are fluent, and reading for leisurely and self-improvement regularly.

~ ~ ~

We are excited to return to Oregon, to return to the community in which my husband and I grew up and began our professional careers. We will be surrounded by family and childhood friends. Yet our move will be bittersweet.

It is always difficult to say good-bye. We will miss the friends we have made here in California. We will cherish the memories we have made.

Our move back to the Oregon coast will come with its own challenges. The population is significantly smaller, and likewise the homeschool community. It will take some getting used to – as with most things. Yet, we welcome the change.