NGPF Podcast: Thom Gibson and Mike Franz Discuss Classroom Economies

Aug 16, 2019
Podcasts, Economics, Activities

Thom and Mike share a common passion: creating classroom economies to bring economics and personal finance to life for their students. Thom and Mike share their different approaches to bringing this engaging tool into middle and high school classrooms. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~2:20 Introduction
  • 2:20~7:31 Thom’s YouTube video class and tips to building engagement
  • 7:31~13:07 Mike’s method of bringing economics to life
  • 13:07~22:39 Tom’s middle school classroom economy
  • 22:39~26:40 How Mike incorporates personal finance concepts in the class
  • 26:40~27:08 A word from NGPF
  • 27:08~28:44 How Mike’s class has evolved 
  • 28:44~33:48 Real life issues students have to deal with
  • 33:48~40:43 Starting a classroom economy
  • 40:43~42:27 Conclusion



  • “When I introduce the game to them, the students are so full of questions. When I tell them they can actually buy someone else’s desk or that $1000 will come to you, their eyes light up.” -Thom
  • “For most of the year the students have to have a few things they have to budget for. The prices for these things are based on supply and demand because they are created by other kids in the class… Kids are constantly managing money so it’s very involved and is a personal finance game in a lot of ways.” -Mike

About the Authors

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.

Ren Makino

Ren has been working part-time at NGPF since 2014, interning through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, after graduating from college in 2020, he joined the team to work full time with a focus on teacher onboarding. He is also the editor of the NGPF podcast and makes sure it is accessible to teachers on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world and try out new brewing methods, even though personal finance gurus tend to caution against buying a cup of joe.