Get Smarter About Money – Personal Finance Resource

What is it?

Get Smarter About Money is an online finance website designed to help individuals with questions regarding their own personal finance.  This is a Canadian website that was created by the Investor Education Fund, which is a Canadian non-profit organization.

There are four different categories that you can research information on which are: investing, planning, life events, and tools and calculators.  Each category is grouped into a number of subcategories which are grouped into even more subcategories which then lead to the information that you are looking for.

Once you have found the section in which you are looking for, there is information provided which is brief but provides enough information to find what you are looking for.

What do I like about it?

– Website is appealing and engaging.  Along with pictures and brief information, this website can be easily appealing to students.

– Website is user friendly.

– Information may not be detailed but it is straight to the point.

– Website is organized and easy to navigate through.

– A search engine is provided for the website so information can be easily accessed.

– Information is categorized into many different sections which is good if you only want to read the information you want to rather than look through useless information or waste time  (this categorization can also be a negative though!).

– Some of the information pages have other links within the text which open up to other outside websites.  These lead to related information that readers may be interested in which have been mentioned in the information pages.

– The website is made by a Canadian organization so the information will be more relevant to me and my students.

What do I dislike about it?

– There is not much about who actually created the website other than the fact that they only have an “About IEF” page (Investor Education Fund).  Because of this, the reader (or maybe it was just me) just assumes the website was created by this organization.

– When looking for information, there are a bunch of sections within sections.  This is nice and organized but it gets tiring to continually click in a bunch of different places to get to one bit of information.  Of course it was easy to find, just tedious.

– Although the information was short and to the point, I wish that there was more detailed information so that I could understand that topic a bit better.

Where does this fit into the curriculum and how would I use this in my classroom?

This online resource fits into LeBlanc’s Personal Finance 30 curriculum.  Looking at each of the objectives, this resource can help to achieve 6/9 objectives from this curriculum.  The first objective that this resource can help to achieve is PF (L) 3 which states: Demonstrate understanding of financial institution services used to access and manage personal finances.  This resource covers topics to help achieve this objective which includes: banking services available, different types of accounts, credit cards, commonly used definitions, service charges, and how to open up a bank account.

The second objective that this resource can help to achieve is PF (L) 4 which states: Demonstrate an understanding of income and personal taxation.  This resource covers topics including deductions that may be relevant to taxation and how payroll functions, gross pay, deductions and personal income tax are related.

The next objective is only partially achieved by this resource.  This objective is PF (L) 5 which states: Demonstrate understanding of personal budgets and their importance for financial planning.  This resource can help to accomplish the indicator about creating and maintaining a personal budget.

The fourth objective that can be achieved is PF (L) 6 which states: Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of investing, the various types of investment vehicles and how interest can be used as an advantage.  Information to achieve the indicators and this objective can be found in two places: under the planning tab and the investing tab.  The basics, including reasons to invest and how to start, can be found under the planning tab; while the retirement plans and different types of bank accounts can be found under the investing tab.

PF (L) 7 is the next objective that can be achieved with this resource.  This objective regards the understanding of services used to access credit options.  This resource does not cover the entire objective or even half of the indicators.  Even the indicators that this resource can help to achieve, it does not do a very thorough job but it can achieve a few indicators that work towards understanding the basics of credit cards, advantages and disadvantages to using a credit card, and tips on how to reduce credit card debt.

The last objective that this resource can help to achieve is PF (L) 9 which states: Demonstrate understanding of purchasing, leasing, and renting options.  Because quite a few of the indicators ask to research information from Saskatchewan, this resource can help to achieve only one indicator within this objective, which is buying versus renting (although nothing about leasing from what I’ve seen, but it does provide a very convenient chart!).

In the classroom, I could use this in a couple ways.  The first, which is mostly likely how I would use it, would be as an extra resource for students to use if interested or they need extra help.  I could post this online to either the classroom blog or website to make this easily accessible for my students.

Also, with one of the objectives that are covered quite well with this resource, I could do an independent study, group work, or even just an assignment or worksheet that I have designed.  This could be completed either in class or outside and with partners or even just individually depending on the length and difficulty level of the assignment.

Overall evaluation of Get Smarter About Money…

Overall, I actually really enjoyed this resource. It had a variety of information that can fit anyone’s interest.  The pages are engaging with short bits of information which can be great especially for those with short attention spans.

The fact that this resource covers a majority of outcomes in the Personal Finance curriculum can say a lot about this resource. It is definitely one to try out in the classroom!

If I were to rare this website I would give it an 8/10.


Canada Revenue Agency – Personal Finance Resource

What is it?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is a Canadian government agency that deals with the tax laws and various social and economic benefit and incentive programs that are delivered through the Canadian tax system.  The website for this agency has been designed to inform Canadians on changes or updates to the areas listed above.  Also, this website provides information for those who are looking to learn about taxes and tax laws.

There is one section on this website that I would like to pay particular attention to; this is the page that lists a variety of information about tax returns.  In this section, the CRA provides a variety of information about tax returns which include:

– Getting a tax package

– Completing a tax return

– Tax payments

– Sending a tax return

– Refunds

– Review of your tax return by CRA

– Complaints and penalties

– And more!

What do I like about it?

– Provides the latest information needed to know about completing a tax return.

– Provides links to other pages and websites for further information.

– User friendly.

– Neat and organized.

– Composed in a language easily understandable for anyone.

– Within each section is more detailed sections.  These sections provide you with enough information needed to complete a tax form.

– Each section is clearly labelled with what information can be found within it.  This makes searching for the information easy and accessible.

– A search box is provided in the top right hand corner of the screen.  This makes information easy and faster to find and access.

What do I dislike about it?

– Information and pages are not exactly the most engaging (but hey, what else do you expect from a government website?).

How does this fit into the curriculum and how would I use this in my classroom?

This online resource fits in LeBlanc’s Personal Finance 30 curriculum.  Specifically, this fits in with objective PF (L) 4 which states: Demonstrate an understanding of income and personal taxation.  Two indicators (h and i) are specific to personal income tax returns and this resource covers them in quite depth.

In my classroom, I could use this online resource in a few different ways.  The first way that I could use this is to use it as an independent study or an in-class assignment.  I would create a worksheet for students to complete, either individually or with a partner, where the find the information needed on this website (and possibly others!).  This could be done either during class or on their own.

Another way that I could use this is just to use the information provided on this website and create a more engaging handout for the students.  This resource provides accurate and first-hand information, although it is not the most interesting.  Reworking this information into a more engaging and activity-based  worksheet could be a great use of this resource.

Also, this could simply just be used as an extra resource that is posted onto the classroom blog or website for more information for students who are struggling or would like to learn more about that topic.

Overall evaluation of Canada Revenue Agency…

Overall, the CRA is a great place to search for accurate and up-to-date information.  However, if you are looking for engaging and fun activities, this is not the place to go!  But with a creative worksheet or activity, this website can be quite useful as an in-class resource.

I would definitely recommend this resource for anyone looking to learn all about Canadian tax returns.

If I had to give this website a rating, I would give it a 7/10.

Practical Money Skills – Personal Finance Resource

What is it?

Practical Money Skills is a personal finance literacy website which is designed to meet the needs of people, all over the world.  Depending on what country you live in (or which country you choose from the drop-down menu on the top right hand corner of the screen), this will bring you to the part of the website that has information that is relevant for people in that country.  This website is also for people of all ages, careers, and needs such as educators, children, and people who just want to learn about personal finance.

On this website, the reader can learn about personal finance in a variety of ways such as:

1. Games – There are 5 games to choose from: Ed’s Bank, Financial Soccer, Money Metropolis, Peter Pig’s Money Counter, and Road Trip to Savings.

In Ed’s Bank, you must help “Ed” save up enough money so that he can go shopping.  You are given a time limit and must grab as many coins as you can in that time.  When the time is up, you can go to the store and purchase items that you will have enough for.  To be honest, this game was not very interesting at all to me and I did not learn anything; nor did it reinforce any knowledge that I had.  It honestly felt like a pointless game (for my use, high school).

In Financial Soccer, you play a game of soccer against a team of your choice.  In order to move forward or steal the ball from the other team, you must answer a question correctly (related to personal finance).  You are given the choice (usually) of whether you would like to answer easy, medium, or hard questions and that will determine who you pass the ball to or if you keep moving forward.  If you get an answer wrong, you either shoot the ball out of bounds or the other team steals the ball.  In order to shoot (which you must get close enough to the net in order to do so), you must answer a question and get it correct in order to score.  You are allowed to choose the duration of tie for the game and the overall difficulty before starting the game.

Money Metropolis is a game in which you choose something that you would like to save up for and you must earn enough money to buy it.  You can earn (or lose) money by going around and visiting different places in town and play games.  If you win, then you earn money, if you lose, then you lose money.  Also, you can do odd jobs at these places such as delivering news papers and raking leaves (which you must buy your own equipment if needed!).  You are not given a time limit but you must earn enough money to reach your goal.

Peter Pig’s Money Counter consists of three mini games.  In the first mini game, you are given a bunch of coins and you must sort them into their appropriate jars.  Once you have done this, you move onto the next mini game which you must count the value of the given coins and pick the lid that has that amount on it.  Next, you are given two sets of coins and you must move a skateboard to the side which has the larger total amount of money. This game, along with Ed’s bank, is definitely a game for younger students in early elementary school where they must get accustomed to money and it’s individual and total worth.

In Road Trip to Savings, you must “steer your way to financial stability.”  You have four weeks to move as much money into your savings account as you can in four weeks.  You begin with $1000 cash and are given opportunities throughout the four weeks to earn (or lose) money.  If you run out of gas or insurance, the game ends early.  You earn or spend by driving your car into the icons that appear on the screen.

2. Information Pages – This website provides information on a variety of personal finance topics including: credit and debt (credit cards, debt, bankruptcy, etc.), savings and spending (saving, budgeting, banking, etc.), and life events (car, mortgage, marriage, divorce, etc.).  Each section within the topics are only about one page length but they do provide even information to have a basic understanding of that topic.

3. Articles – These are not as relevant to the curriculum as the information pages and games described above; however, these can provide up-to-date, relevant and engaging information for anyone (including students).  These articles can be found within the Expert Resources folder in the “Personal Finance” drop down menu.

The resources available for educators appear to be quite amazing.  It looks engaging, student friendly, and nicely organized.  Within each lesson plan, the following information is provided:

– Goals

– Objectives

– Timeline

– Instructions

– Teacher Notes

– Required Materials

– Assessment and Evaluation

– Additional Web Resources

– Student Handouts

What do I like about it?

– The lesson plans provided are detailed and include any and all information needed.

– Student handouts within the lesson plans are engaging, easy to follow, simple and straight to the point.

– Games are engaging and do not frustrate the player.  Although a couple of the games are more elementary (which doesn’t suit my needs, they may for someone else!).

– The Website if user friendly, organized, and easy to navigate – this is great for technology illiterate people like me!

– You can download financial literacy resources from the home page for free (choice of consumer materials or classroom materials – lesson plans that I have discussed).  This is intended to help promote financial literacy.

– Has calculators to help determine what a person can buy.  This includes calculators for buying cars, mortgages, family and life, and budget and goals.  These are helpful and ask good questions to consider when saving or spending.  If there might be a trouble question where a person does not know what it is or where to find that piece of information, there is a link below that can guide you to a description of what is being asked.

– Information sections are relevant to anyone and everyone.  From planning for parenthood to buying a home, there is a section that can be relevant for anyone.

What do I dislike about it?

– The information pages do not provide extra resources if the reader wishes to look into that topic further.  Also, I wish that the information pages had a bit more detailed information although I will give props that they are straight to the point.

– You must download the lesson plans as a whole.  You cannot view it online to determine if you would like to download it or not.  Also, you cannot download a section of a unit or lesson, you must download every single lesson and unit.  Also, when you download the units, it downloads as a WinRAR, which is strange and difficult to use.

Where does this fit into the curriculum and how would I use it in my classroom?

This website can fit with a majority of LeBlanc’s Personal Finance 30 curriculum (if you care to search for all of it individually).  For the articles, there is no easy to find section for any of the objectives or indicators, but any of them can be found using the search engine.  One example of a resource that I found that is engaging and covers the basics of one of the objectives can be found here.  This brochure can help to achieve objective PF (L) 2 which states: understand, analyze and apply the decision-making process as it relates to personal finance.  This resource may not be very detailed but it does briefly cover a majority of the indicators and can serve as a reminder or review for students.

As for the lesson and unit plans, these can help to achieve the following objectives: PF (L) 2 (decision-making process), PF (L) 3 (banking), PF (L) 5 (budgeting), PF (L) 7 (credit options), PF (L) 8 (factors threatening one’s financial standing), and PF (L) 9 (purchasing, leasing, and renting).  The lesson and unit plans may not cover exactly what is asked for in the curriculum but it is a great starting point and offers many great ideas.

In my classroom, I could use this online resource in a few different ways.  One way that I could use this resource is to use the games as an end of unit/year practice to check students understanding of the material.  If there is any extra or free time that students have, they can play these games or review the articles to help  develop their understanding of the content.  Another way that I could use this resource is by posting it onto my classroom website/blog for extra resources for students who would like to research particular topics further or need to deepen their understanding of the material.  One other way that I could use this resource is to do either an individual or partner assignment where they must research a chosen topic.  This resource, along with others, could be provided to students as a starting point.  Once they have completed their research, they could present their findings and “teach” their peers this knowledge.

Overall evaluation of Practical Money Skills…

Overall, I found this website to be a great resource and will definitely use it in my teaching (more specifically the lesson plans, but I will use it nonetheless!).  I would recommend any Personal Finance teacher (or anyone interested in the subject) to check out this resource as it provides great resources and information.

If I were to give this website a rating, I would give it a 9/10.