What Can SchoolHouse Rock Teach Us About Money?

Feb 25, 2015
Budgeting, Investing, Savings, Video Resource

I am going “retro” on you with this post.

Hat tip to my good friend, Andy Kavulich, who has a better memory than me recalling the School House Rock series, which had a few videos pertaining to money (I only remembered “I am a Bill” and “Conjunction Junction”).  While these videos may seem targeted to a younger audience, I think that they can be used at the high school level too by asking students to watch them more critically, apply the advice given to their own situation and even make recommendations based on their knowledge.

The videos below cover budgeting, investing and banking/saving.  I have also listed questions to prime students as they are watching:

Dollars and Sense would be appropriate for your banking/checking/savings unit:

  • In the video, the banker explains interest to the country singer wannabe.  Describe in your own words how interest can work for and against you.
  • What are two elements of this video that don’t seem reasonable in your view?
    • Potential answers:
      • Would a bank really lend money to her since she doesn’t appear to have a steady job?
      • Rather than get a bank loan, most people would buy that new guitar and amps using a credit card which would have an interest rate closer to 20% (compared to 10% the bank was offering).
      • Since interest rates are so low today, if she saved her money, she would only have about 1% more in her account.


Where Does the Money Go? would be appropriate for your budgeting unit.

  • List all the expenses that the father describes to his son.
    • You may have to play the video a few times to give them time to jot down all this information
    • You could also stop the video at 2:16 and ask them to use these categories (home, school, insurance, government, cars, family) to group all of this family’s expenses.
  • Are there other expenses that your family spends money on that weren’t mentioned?
  • What are the cost savings ideas that the father recommends?
  • What would you recommend to the father so that in the future he might have money to cover unforeseen expenses, such as the trip to the Rose Bowl?


$7.50 Once A Week fits in your budgeting unit as it describes how a student spends his allowance each week.

  • What does he spend his money on?
  • What regrets does he have after he has spent his allowance?
  • Give him three pieces of advice to help solve his budgeting issues.


Walking on Wall Street as the name suggests would be a good addition to your Investing unit.

  • What are some pieces of advice given in this video about how to make money on Wall Street?
  • What is investing?
  • What is dollar cost averaging?  Why might this be a good idea?
  • What advice would you provide the investor in the video?  Here are some ideas:
    • Don’t trade individual stocks
    • Buy for the long-term so you don’t have to monitor stock prices on a daily basis
    • Develop a more diversified portfolio
    • Use online trading as it has lower costs than phoning orders into a broker

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.