The holidays are a time of year that hits everyone right in the wallet. Between buying gifts for friends and family and picking up some treats for yourself, it's easy to feel like the money doesn't stretch far enough. Most people complain about feeling caught off guard and not having enough money set aside. Spending without a plan makes things even more difficult. Better money management can help a person to relax and enjoy the holiday season, without all the money worries. Plan ahead so this doesn't have to be a stressful time of year.

How to Build a Budget
The beginning of a new year is a natural time to explore money and economics with your class. This year, when an economic downturn has left many American families pinching pennies, the topic is especially fitting. In this Special Online Issue, you and your students will find a wealth of stories related to money and investing. You will learn, for example, how our government mints money for the nation and how anyone can make money grow through the stock market. Invest some class time in exploring these articles together, and you'll help students develop financial smarts that will pay lifetime dividends! Use the teaching suggestions and reproducible activities in this section to create lesson plans around the stories.

Activities for Kids and Money
Spending and Saving: In How to Save, your students learned the potential value of investing. But ice cream and Game Boys can be very tempting. How can kids spend some of their money on items they need and want while still having funds to invest for future use? By budgeting, of course! Have kids practice budgeting money with our ready-to-print reproducible, Budget Time (PDF). In it, students plan and graph how they would allocate a $30 birthday gift.

Extend the article and activity by inviting students to brainstorm some reasons to save. Ask: What things might you need or want to buy in 1 to 2 years? In 5 to 10 years? Are these goals worth saving for?

Activities for Stock Market Tips:
To Market: After reading the articles and playing the stock market game, provide an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned. Use the PDF activity To Market, To Market! (PDF) to track an imaginary stock purchase over one week. This activity invites kids to follow the stock price of one of five kid-friendly companies: Disney, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Mattel, and Toys 'R' Us.

If students are using the Web to track stock quotes, try USA Today's site, At the top right of the page, enter the company's stock symbol. When you click on "Go," you will get a full report on the stock's recent activity. The boldfaced number on the top line (under "Last") is the current stock value. If possible, students should check the stock after the markets close at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If using a daily newspaper, show students where to find the stock quotes in the business section (you will be a day behind the markets).

On the reproducible, students track the stock for one market week; you may choose to extend the activity to demonstrate greater fluctuations in stock values.

Keep in mind that this activity involves multiplication, addition, and subtraction of decimals (monetary sums). If this is too advanced for your students, you can still introduce the idea of stock values by having students look up today's stock quote for a favorite company from the list.

Don't miss this bonus ready-to-print Money Math activity:
See if you can spot the better buy with the PDF reproducible Bargain Hunter!

Answers to Make "Cents" Printable Activity
1-b, 2-c, 3-d, 4-c, 5-a