JA Economics for Success®

JA Economics for Success® lays bare for students the heart of successful economic life: choosing the right career and managing money properly

Following participation in the program, students will be able to explore their skills, interests, values, and the world of work to make informed education, career, and life decisions. The program also will expand their knowledge of personal finance—including smart budgeting, wise credit use, and minimizing financial risk—so they can apply strong financial management skills regardless of their income.

The program, which targets students in middle school, is composed of six 45-minute sessions. Materials are packaged in a self-contained kit that includes detailed plans for the volunteer and materials for 32 students.

Session-specific, student-friendly materials are included to increase student interaction and emphasize JA''s experiential approach to learning.

JA Economics for Success® enhances students’ learning of the following concepts and skills:

  • Concepts – Budget, Credit, Credit card, Credit score, Co-pay insurance, Debit card, Decision making, Deductible, Goal setting, Gross income, Higher education, Interest, Interests, Needs and wants, Net income, Opportunity cost, Policy, Premium, Risk, Self-knowledge, Skills, Values, World of work
  • Skills - Analyzing information, Critical-thinking, Inquiry and critical thinking skills, Interpreting data, Math calculations, Oral and written communication, Problem solving, Reading for understanding, Self-assessment, Working in groups and pairs presentation, Oral and written communication, Organizing information, Reading for understanding

Program Components

The key learning objectives listed beside each activity state the skills and knowledge students will gain.

Activity One: Mirror, Mirror

Students make choices to better understand the concept of self-knowledge—the awareness of their skills, interests, and values—as they consider education, careers, and other life choices.

Session Objectives:

  • Use personal reflection to explain self-knowledge
  • Apply their skills, interests, and values to help determine a potential career path

Activity Two: Be a Success

Students learn how to set goals for their financial future. They play the Be a Success Game to see the connection between personal finance, education, and careers.

Session Objectives:

  • Identify the connection between goal-setting, personal finance, education, and career choices
  • Apply decision-making to education and career decisions

Activity Three: Keeping Your Balance

Students receive Occupation Cards and observe how different jobs provide different monthly salaries. Based on those monthly salaries, students evaluate the opportunity costs when making budget decisions.

Session Objectives:

  • Recognize that a balanced budget is important for workers of all income levels
  • Differentiate between gross and net income
  • Name ways to balance a budget

Activity Four: Savvy Shopper

Students examine how consumers pay for goods and services. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using debit and credit cards.

Session Objectives:

  • Identify the differences between debit and credit cards
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of both cards
  • Recognize the importance of taking personal responsibility for financial decisions

Activity Five: Keeping Score

Students examine how a credit score is determined and learn about the positive and negative consequences of a credit report.

Session Objectives:

  • Describe the favorable or unfavorable outcomes of a personal credit score
  • Explain actions that cause a credit score to go up or down

Activity Six: What''s the Risk?

Stdents demonstrate that life involves risk and that insurance helps to reduce the financial consequences of loss or injury.

Session Objectives:

  • Explore the cost and consequence of risk
  • Explain how insurance provides a method to minimize financial risk
  • Identify the opportunity cost of having insurance
  • Assess how personal responsibility plays a part in minimizing risk

All JA programs are designed to support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These programs also augment school-based, work-based, and connecting activities for communities with school-to-work initiatives.

For additional information on this and all Junior Achievement programs, please visit