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Friday, February 18, 2022

Teen Financial Reality Fair: Planning Toolkit

Game of Life Financial Reality Fair

Teen Financial Reality Fair: 
Planning Toolkit 

Immersive budgeting experience that gives Junior & Senior High students a glimpse into what it costs to live independently

PDF Download

My heart is so full after creating and organizing this event for our local homeschool community!  We had FIFTY Junior and Senior High students, including my sons, take part in this fair. Both my boys have already asked if we can do it again so they pick another job and see how they can budget with a different income!

The Teen Financial Reality Fair is an immersive budgeting experience that gives students a glimpse into what it costs to live independently, and how take responsibility for personal financial decisions with the use of a Monthly Budget Tracker. 

Junior high and high school students will have the opportunity to encounter some of the financial challenges they will face as an adult, such as cost of housing, entertainment, and transportation. This toolkit is flexible and can be used in a variety of educational settings, such as a homeschool cooperative or public school.

What makes this curriculum different from other reality fairs?

I remember doing a fair similar to this in my public school junior high, and when I couldn't find one that had all the components I needed/wanted, I decided to make my own! 

  • Homeschool Oriented  Many of the other examples I found were built for public schools, with the pre-work all done in a traditional classroom.  The toolkit I made includes homeschool registration forms, pre-fair student packet that can be done at home, and tips on how recruit volunteers that are not teachers in the building.
  • No Personal Loans Almost every Financial Reality Fair I found as an example directed students to get a personal loan at the end of the month if they went over their budget.  This fair instead directs student to revisit tables to change their spending to fit into their income.  If they have money left over at the end of the month, they are directed to go back to the savings/investment table to save it for a specific goal.
  • Student Pick their Job based on Self Reflection Many of the fairs also assign the student their job.  I remember in 8th grade being very frustrated at injustice of being assigned a mechanic that made minimum wage and the class pot head was assigned a doctor! and I wanted my teens to take some personal surveys that could help them identify how their strengths would translate into a career.  Links to surveys are included in the kit.
  • Entry Level Salaries All Salaries are entry level, none over $75,000.  Too many times we tell students their chosen profession's top salary, instead of preparing them to start at the bottom and work their way up.

Reality Fair Objectives

Relating Income and Careers 
  • Identify how career choice, education, skills, entrepreneurship, and unexpected life events affect income 
  • Identify the effects of tax bracket, gross versus net income, and employee health benefits 
Planning and Managing Money
  • Demonstrate responsibility for personal financial decisions with the use of a Monthly Budget Tracker
  • Gain awareness of debt on a monthly budget 
  • Determine how charitable giving can fit into a personal budget and appropriate percentages for giving 
  • Identify the relationship between spending practices and achieving financial goals 
Savings and Investing
  • Understand the importance of saving money on a regular basis 
  • Explain the relationship between saving practices and achieving financial goals 
  • Devise an investment plan for accumulating money for retirement

Reality Fair Procedure

The Financial Reality Fair consists of two parts:

1. Job Choice & Income Planning (In classroom or done at home)

Students must complete the Student Pre-Fair Packet before the fair.

The Pre-Fair Student Packet Includes:

  • Career and Personality Quizzes
  • Pick their job option from list of entry level positions
  • Income Planning Sheet- calculate their monthly take home pay after taxes

You can use the given job salaries, or research local starting salaries in your area. Their job choice also includes information regarding the education level needed to obtain that position and if health benefits are provided, which is data they will need as they visit the reality fair booths.

In class or at home, students will use their starting salary to figure their take home pay after taxes.  They will need to identify their tax bracket, then calculate several fractions to determine their yearly, then monthly take home pay.

2. In Person Reality Fair
The second part of the curriculum involved an In-Person Financial Reality Fair.
On the day of the fair, students will first go to the bank to receive their Monthly Budget Tracker.

Using their predetermined job and monthly net income from the Pre-Fair Student Packet, students will have about an hour to go to all booths and complete their monthly budget. 

Each booth represents different adult spending obligations: housing, food, entertainment, transportation, etc. For example, at the Housing booth they decide if they will rent or buy, and if they can afford to live alone or need a roommate. The reality check comes when they are made aware of not only the high cost of living, but also of the many hidden costs the student may have considered, like renter’s insurance, heat, and utilities.

When students have visited every booth at the fair, they will bring their completed Monthly Budget Tracker back to the bank. The goal is to successfully complete and balance their budget.

The goal of this eye-opening interactive experience will give the student a glimpse into what costs they can expect and how take responsibility for personal financial decisions with the use of a Monthly Budget.

Reality Fair Planning Toolkit

The planning toolkit provides:


  • Reality Fair Procedure
  •  Reality Fair Objectives
  •  Individual Booth Objectives


  • Planning Timeline
  • Materials Needed
  • Volunteers Needed
  •  Resources for Local Prices
  • Sample Booth Layout


  • Sample Parent Letter
  • Homeschool Parent Letter
  • Registration 
  • Student Evaluation 


  •  Career Survey links
  •  Job Options
  •  Blank Job Options
  •  Income Planning Sheet


  • Prefilled Booth Informational Pages, with costs of independent living
  • Blank Informational Pages, with links to help you research costs of living in your local area.

You can purchase PDF Download

The toolkit is available for purchase in PDF download in my Teacher Pay Teachers store and provides you with all the information and planning resources needed to host in any homeschool community!

PDF Download

Student Evaluations

Check our some of the student evaluations in the pictures below, confirming how needed this type of hands on experience is for teenagers.   Many of the parents texted and emailed me later about their students were talking about the fair for days afterwards.  Some parents told me their student asked about the family budget when they got home!

Don't wait, buy the planning toolkit to do with your teens today!!!

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