This article presents the results of a 7th-grade classroom teaching experiment that supported students' understanding of integer addition and subtraction. The experiment was conducted to test and revise a hypothetical learning trajectory so as to propose a potential instructional theory for integer addition and subtraction. The instructional sequence, which was based on a financial context, was designed using the Realistic Mathematics Education theory. Additionally, an empty, vertical number line (VNL) is posited as a potentially viable model to support students' organizing their addition and subtraction strategies. Particular emphasis is placed on the mathematical practices that were established in this setting. These practices indicate that students can successfully draw on their experiences with assets, debts, and net worths to create meaning for integer addition and subtraction.