How to Introduce Financial Literacy & Goal Setting while Teaching Writing

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

How to Introduce Financial Literacy & Goal Setting while Teaching Writing


Whether we’re at our lowest low or on the brink of something great, making a plan makes us feel less frantic and more settled as we reach our next milestones. YR Media contributor Kieu Nguyen Le mapped out how they were going to manage their money in preparation for heading off to college in My Journey to Financial Independence by 18. This accompanying curriculum tool focuses  on developing student agency and offers them a youth-created article called “My Journey To…” as a mentor text toward their own informational writing. Using this lesson plan, students will compose an informational text that identifies clear goals and outlines steps toward reaching a significant milestone. 


When was the last time you felt really accomplished? What did you accomplish? Why did you feel accomplished?

NOTE: Give students time to reflect on this question before answering, perhaps even setting aside a few minutes for them to journal the prompt before discussing. You may want to come up with your own answer to this question as a model for students. You can invite students to answer as a whole class, in pairs or small groups.


Give students 5-10 minutes to read the YR Media story, read My Journey to Financial Independence by 18.


  • Is there anything you would have added to Kieu’s steps toward financial independence? 
  • Is there anything Kieu mentioned that surprised you or that you hadn’t thought of? 
  • How might you outline steps towards financial independence? 


Part 1: Learning about SMART goals
  • Have student guess what each letter stands for
  • Discuss: Why is it important for a goal to have this quality?
  • Have students give examples
    • Specific — Clear so you know exactly what your goal is
    • Measureable — Stay focused, meet deadlines, be accountable
    • Attainable/Achievable — Not too easy and not too hard, so you are motivated and not discouraged
    • Relevant/Realistic — This goal matters and aligns with the bigger picture
    • Time-bound — Has dates to keep you on track
Part 2: Come up with 3 S.M.A.R.T goals

Have students come up with 3 goals: a personal goal, professional goal, and creative goal. Students will come up with one goal at a time, allowing them time to really think about the goal and giving each one a realistic time frame.  

Have youth outline specific 3-5 steps needed to reach their goals. Students don’t have to start writing paragraphs just yet. Short phrases like “Set up a recurring payment” or “Create a calendar” are fine at this point in the activity. You may ask students who are struggling to come up with steps with questions like: 

  1. Are there skills you need to achieve this goal?
  2. What materials do you need in order to achieve your goal?
  3. What kinds of support do you need to reach your goal?
Part 3: Preparing to write a “my Journey To…” article

Invite students to pick one of the SMART goals that they outlined and use the goal they chose to complete the sentence “My Journey to…” That will be their title. Students will then write a short intro paragraph about why they chose that goal and what significance it has for them at this point in their life. They may also write about what will change for them once they complete this goal.

Next, students can add more detail to the steps that they outlined, focusing on how they will complete that specific step. Students can write about what the perceived challenges to achieving this specific step might be or why they think the step is particularly important.

Part 4: Wrap up and goal share

Students share their “My Journey to…” writing as a link, audio recording, or video with one another using a platform that works for your context. For example, they might use a collaborative Google doc to share view-only links to one another’s writing, create and upload audio recordings to a shared folder using voice memos, or create shared videos using Flipgrid. 


Have a debrief conversation with the whole class or in small groups. The following can be used as suggestions to guide the debrief and more can be added:  

  • Did anything surprise you about this activity? 
  • How did you feel about identifying the steps it would take to achieve your goal? Did it make achieving your goal seem harder? Easier? Why?
  • Do you think you’ll try to identify steps for achieving another goal? Why or why not? 



Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!

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