"After a couple of weeks, I figure I can save enough," said the bright-eyed student at school on Wednesday.
Budgeting is just one of the lessons taught by a four-week program that focuses on financial literacy. North Fork Bank and the Hoboken School District have partnered to create a program called Consumerism for Kids: Money Matters, which introduces elementary schoolers to the basic principals of managing money. The "School Bank Program" is taught by executives from North Fork.
Tuesday, James Handal, a vice-president of North Fork, was on hand to compel the students to think about becoming responsible money managers.
As the financial world has become increasingly complex, consumers have been faced with a growing number of decisions about their future. Unfortunately, many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and acquire substantial debt because they never learned the basics about personal finance, said fifth grade teacher Cara Killen.
"We must prepare our students with the basics of economic and financial literacy so that they can succeed in life," she said. "The program teaches the students that you have to pay your bills for things like power, telephone, and rent before you can spend money on luxury items like sneakers or video games."
During the first class, the students explored the origin of money by answering which came first, money or banks. The students were asked to consider purchasing methods as they existed in ancient Egypt.
Various objects were used to illustrate how people bartered to obtain their necessities. They objects used varied in weight in order to demonstrate the practicality and development of paper currency.
The second class focused on how communities use money. In this class, a student was assigned the role of a farmer. The farmer is paid for his or her annual efforts and is responsible for paying his employees. Each employee then becomes responsible for purchasing items - those on a list of needs, and secondly, finances permitting, those on a list of wants.
The third class, which was held Wednesday, began with the fable of a boy who was given money by his grandparents and managed to squander the money. The students had a discussion about the boy's spending habits and how they apply to themselves. They then played a game that highlighted the differences between wants and needs. Each student was given $20 and a laminated board with a list of different categories. Some were needs like food, clothes and books, while others were more frivolous like a Gameboy or a pet, while still others like a savings account teach the students about long-term savings.
"It's important to save money," said Jonathon Frazier from his front row seat. "If you don't have enough money for something, you have to save up until you do."
He added that he put money in savings so that he could buy a present for his mother.
The fourth class teaches the students more money managing skills by creating a personal budget. Each fifth grader will create a budget that includes various categories of income and expenses. Then, they will present their spending plan to the class.