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Beyond Personal Finance, a class for teens Review by Heidi Mosher

Charla McKinley, Artisan of Adulting
Beyond Personal Finance

Beyond Personal Finance is a course for teens. Charla McKinley shares her education in finance and experience as a CPA to prepare teens for independence by helping them understand that their choices matter. According to the author's website, the result of the class is: "A wise teen making smarter choices. A grateful teen willing to discuss the future. A prepared teen on the path to financial independence."

The product includes a 365-day online membership to student and teacher portals with self-paced video teaching. Charla does the teaching herself, and the videos last for about 30 minutes. A full-color student workbook is included with the product. The consumable workbook is 300 pages, printed in color on thick paper and spiral bound. Students can access electronic assignments and tests via the student portal. Online teacher resources include a brief coaching video for each lesson as well as answer keys and lesson plans. Students engage in a "choose your own adventure" format through 20 lessons that will take less than two hours per week. Topics are chronological to real life and include:

  • colleges and careers
  • budgeting
  • car purchase
  • apartment rental
  • credit cards
  • marriage and interest
  • babies and payroll
  • house purchase
  • insurance
  • single income
  • charitable giving
  • investments
  • business basics
  • layoffs and reconciliations
  • income tax
  • divorce dangers
  • retirement

Two reviews and three checkpoints are built into the lessons. Pages for key terms and lesson checklists are included as well. The cost for Beyond Personal Finance is $150.00.

Beyond Personal Finance is intended for teens, and I reviewed the product with my 16-year-old son, who is entering his junior year of high school. To use this course, students log in to their student portal for instructional videos and access homework. The product could be used almost independently, with a small time commitment from the parent. Videos designed for the parent to view before each lesson are brief and will aid in discussions with the student. Beyond Personal Finance works well for homeschoolers and was designed by an experienced home educator. In addition to self-paced online classes, live classes (in-person near Raleigh, North Carolina, or online) are available. The course is intended to teach the fundamentals of financial literacy by experience. It provides students with opportunities to exercise choices to apply to their own practice budgets. Students make decisions and then face the impact of those decisions. For example, students may try car debt or student loan debt "to experience the pain firsthand." Rather than grading, the author incorporates pay raises as students advance through the course.

Beyond Personal Finance is an outstanding product. As an adult, I wish I would have had real-life training through an enjoyable course like this. What drew me into choosing it for my child is the unique aspect of offering students opportunities to make choices and see consequences. This is done in a virtual "game of life" type format. For example, the student chooses a career and researches it to learn what education or training is required, what the job outlook is, how much it pays, and what will be expected in a typical day's work.

Further decisions include purchasing a house and choosing a spouse with encouragement to consider gathering "more info than just what you can see on the outside." Fun is had with digital spinners. They supply plot twists like remodeling expense or garage sale income as well as the amusing and straightforward Baby Game with spin results like "no baby this time" or "it's twins." This course does not feel like school but more like an investment in preparing for the future.

The workbook is attractive and atypical. Though it is consumable, most pages do not include written work, offering appeal to the student. Instead, it has up-to-date, bright photos, large fonts, and a nice-looking design. These elements lend great interest to the workbook. In addition, students will find humor throughout with statements and topics like, "Who even uses checks?" and "Future You... Gets a Minivan," and "Future You Has a Kid with an Expensive Hobby."

The author's high values are displayed throughout the curriculum though the topics are presented without direct faith or scripture connection. The subject of divorce is handled with great sensitivity. Parents may wish to incorporate discussions about how their religious beliefs direct financial and life decisions.

Charla's knowledge and passion for the topic shine through the program for teens and beyond. Her experience as a mother is also evident, making the package trustworthy and valuable. With the product, I was delighted to begin receiving emails from "Charla McKinley, the Artisan of Adulting." Topics of her communication do not necessarily pertain to the Beyond Personal Finance course but are encouraging and informative while parenting younger children as well. So far, she has shared a "Responsibility at Every Age List," a "Home Projects List," and a "Top Skills for College List."

I recommend Beyond Personal Finance as a unique, enjoyable, and valuable way to prepare teens to handle real life.

-Product review by Heidi Mosher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, July 2021