Lesson 4: Unexpected Life Expenses and Exploring a Company’s Benefits
Young Adult, Lesson 4
Full Lesson Plan

Access this lesson plans and all supporting materials. Duplicate the doc to edit (file > make a copy)

Full Google Doc Lesson Plan
Video: When life hurts IRA vs. 401k: Everything you need to know to decide Instructional Slides

Lesson 4: Unexpected Life Expenses and Exploring a Company’s Benefits

Learning Objective:

Students will be able to prepare for unexpected life expenses. Students will also be able to analyze a company’s employee benefits, including insurance, and assess how they could affect their pay and future. 


  • Cue up this video: When Life Hurts
  • Provide this link to students to individually read: IRA vs. 401k: Everything You Need to Know to Decide
  • On Stash101, go to Classroom > The 101 Wheel. Configure the settings to be 1 spin on each day of the week or just on the day of class. Then go to the purple “Settings” button on the Home page and turn on “Students can….spin the 101 wheel.”
  • Read through the lesson plan and instructional slides.

Video (5 min)

Slide: Unexpected life expenses
Share video

Say: This motivational speech may really speak to some of you when life gets rough, especially financially. And as we discussed in the last lesson, many of us have emotional responses/experiences around the topic of money—so in this session we’re going to explore how to shield and protect yourself financially so money is less of a negative stressor for you.

The 101 Wheel & Unexpected Life Expenses (15 min)

Slide: Expenses in your life
Ask: What are some unexpected expenses that have come up in your life or your family’s life that have been tough? 

Have students share a few out.

Slide: Emergency fund
Say: Sometimes expenses come up that we didn’t see coming, like medical bills, car maintenance, things related to job loss, vet bills, etc. Because these sorts of things are more the norm than the exception, it’s super important to always have a nest egg. This is called an emergency fund. The emergency fund is part of the 20% “savings bucket” of your budget. 

Slide: Reflection
Say: How much do you think should be in your emergency fund? 

Call on one or two people to share out. 

Say: Different people think different things about the amount you should have in your emergency fund, and it’s really up to you what you’re comfortable with. The most commonly held belief is that you should save up six months worth of expenses. Let’s take a moment and figure out how much that would be. Look back at your budget, and look at the cost for your needs, the 50%. What number is that? 

Have students share out quickly. 

Say: So you’d take that amount and multiply by 6—ideally, that’s what you’d save up for your emergency fund.

Slide: 101 Wheel
Say: To simulate the random unexpected expenses that come up in our lives, we’re going to spin the 101 wheel on Stash101. We’ll spin this wheel today after we decide which random events might occur—and we’ll spin it in each class from here on out—to simulate experiencing an unexpected expense (or bonus!). (Educators, this will be built into the subsequent lessons.) We need to make sure we have enough padding in our checking accounts that we won’t overdraft if an unexpected expense occurs. Let’s take a moment and create our wheel together, with realistic expenses that might come up for us where we’re at in our lives now. Then, go in and spin the wheel! 

Follow the 101 Wheel slides to set this up and have students spin the wheel.

Have students shout out a few of the events they landed on.

Understanding Your Company’s Benefits (25-30 min)

Slide: Your company’s benefits
Say: We’re going to take the rest of class to explore the different types of benefits different companies offer, and how those benefits might affect your financial situations in the present and future. Let’s learn a little more about benefits that many companies provide.

Slide: Understanding your retirement benefits
Say: Let’s take the next 5 minutes to read about the differences between a 401K and an IRA. Be prepared to share out which retirement option you would choose, and why. 

After students read the article, ask a few to share their preferences and explain their choices.

Slide: What other perks….
Say: Beyond 401K and IRA options for building up your retirement savings, you’ll want to explore additional perks offered by a company. On this slide, you can see that Stash, the parent company of the learning platform Stash101, states that they have a competitive salary; equity or ownership in the company itself; medical, dental and vision insurance; paid parental leave; 401K retirement plans; money for continuing your education; the opportunity to work remotely; and flexible vacation time. 

Slide: Research time
Say: What’s most important to you? Is it important that you have health insurance, or that you can work from anywhere? Is it important to you to have time off for starting a family, or to own a piece of your company for all the work you do for them? Take the rest of class (and outside of class if you run out of time) to research a company you might want to work for at some point. Go to their site, scroll down to the footer where they normally link to their careers/jobs page, and see what perks they offer. 

If time allows, have students share what they find.

Homework (5 min)

Slide: Homework
Say: For homework, continue exploring the perks a company might offer you as an employee. 

Slide: Pre-work for next session
Say: Read these articles: 

Display the Takeaway slide.