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Lesson 17: Teaching Opportunity Cost

Okay, so we’ve well beaten the drum on the financial life lesson of Opportunity Cost in a previous Kids & Money episode. Now, let’s see it in action with this opportunity cost exercise! (If you missed out on the original explanation, catch up on previous Kids & Money lessons here.)

Opportunity Cost Exercise: Planning the Next Family Outing

Elementary:  Have your kids plan the next family outing. Give them the options to choose from and have them write it down. Examples may be to:

  • Go ride bikes in the park OR
  • Get a Redbox movie and a pizza OR
  • Go to a museum or historical site

Fun factor: Get a poster board and markers and have the kids draw out a decision tree, listing the pros and cons of each choice.

Middle Schoolers:  Have your kids plan the next family outing. Give them the options to choose from and have them write it down. Examples may be to:

  • Go ride bikes in the park OR
  • Get a Redbox movie and a pizza OR
  • Go to a museum or historical site

Ask them to list the pros and cons of each choice. If you give them more than two choices, have them eliminate all but the final two. Now — for the final two — have them apply the question: “What is the wise thing for me to do?”

Teens:  Have your kids plan the next family outing. Give them the options to choose from and have them write it down. Examples may be to:

  • Go ride bikes in the park OR
  • Get a Redbox movie and a pizza OR
  • Go to a museum or historical site

Ask them to list pros and cons of each choice. Ensure that they list the emotional benefits, physical benefits and social benefits — does the activity allow for relational growth? If you give them more than two choices, have them eliminate all but the final two. Now — for the final two — have them apply the question: “What is the wise thing for me to do?”

Financial Life Lesson Tip for Parents: This should be a fun exercise. It’s a great way to hone in on the point of weighing Opportunity Cost in decision-making, a valuable life lesson indeed. So, if you and the kids enjoy this process, make it a new standard for your family!

August 2018

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