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Grade 6-8

Staying Afloat Financially in the 21st Century

Updated: February 3 2016,
Author: Michael Koren


You have just won the local lottery. You will receive a check for $200 every month for the next five years. What things do you want to have? What is most important to you? How will you use your money? You will create a personal monthly budget in the lesson. You will also analyze various financial scenarios and decide how you would react if each scenario involved you.

Task List

So many young people are finding themselves in debt, sometimes before graduating from high school and certainly before graduating from college. You will make a monthly budget for yourself which will allow you to use $200.00 however you see fit. Determine what you will need and want.  Think about choices you will need to make regarding savings and spending money.  You must stay within the budget. You must stay within the budget.


Budgeting is a helpful way to reduce the chances of falling into debt. While a budget won’t guarantee a person won’t go into debt, making and developing a budget will help reduce the chances this will happen. We know debt is a big issue facing young people, and learning how to budget, how to develop a budget, and how to stick to a budget are necessary skills for financial success.

  1. Write a list of things you need and want to have during the next month, using the What Do You Want? worksheet (Printable Version), and then prioritize the items on the list.
  2. Review your list and then prioritize it. Rewrite your list with the first item being the most important and the last item being the least important.
  3. Determine the cost for each item on your list. Use store websites to determine prices or make your best estimate. Ask adults if you aren’t sure or can’t find the information. Use the interactive budget page to keep your budget at or under $200.00.
  4. Total the cost of all the items on your list.
  5. Since your monthly budget is $200.00, you will need to eliminate items if your budget is over $200.00.


Making good financial decisions and savings at a young age is a very important ingredient toward financial success later in life. Controlling expenses and saving money help build a solid financial base. Avoiding debt by sticking to a budget is very important. You should practice these finance skills at a young age to get in the habit of saving, not overspending, and not spending on frivolous items.

These internet resources will help you in the process of nudgeting and savings:

Assessment Activity

You will develop a balanced, monthly budget using the list you created. You will need to make decisions about what to include in the budget. Remember the importance of savings and spending on necessities.

After making your budget, you will write a brief essay about the difficulties you faced in making choices to have you budget balance. If you didn’t have difficulties, your essay should focus on why it was easy for you to make a balanced budget.

In your groups, discuss each situation and decide what should be done, and what the opportunity costs are.

Situation One

Bill is interested in being a basketball referee. In order to get certified and known of as an official, he needs to attend a camp for basketball officials. At this camp, Bill will learn instruction about refereeing, referee at least four games, be seen by people who assign officials to games from the grade school level through high school varsity level, and meet other officials. If Bill gets hired to games, he will make a minimum of $20.00 a game, possibly more. Bill does not have the $350.00 in his monthly budget to cover the cost of the camp? Should Bill attend the camp?

Situation Two

Sally is looking to buy a five-year-old, used Mustang convertible. It will cost her $9,500.00 to buy the car plus insurance. She believes this car will make her very popular at school, make it easier for to get dates, and will bring a lot of attention her way. Her parents are willing to provide her with a ten-year-old station wagon and will pay for all costs of the this car except the gas Sally uses. Sally has $5,000.00 in her savings account and monthly income of $450.00. Which car should Sally get?

Situation Three

Claudio wants to become a teacher. He wants to go to the best school in the state which has a great School of Education. This School of Education has a very positive national reputation and places 85% of its graduates in good paying teacher positions. However, since the school is located on the other side of the state, Claudio would not be able to go to school and live at home. He would have to pay tuition and the cost of living in a dorm, food, and other expenses. The university in his hometown has a School of Education which has an average reputation and places 75% of its graduates in jobs. However, the average starting pay for teachers from the local university averages $3,500.00 a year less than the starting pay from teachers who attended the university with nationally known School of Education. Claudio would have to borrow money to attend the better school and will have about $15,000.00 in debt after finish college. Should he do this?

Extension Activity

You will make a budget based on your actual monthly income. This income may come from jobs you do, gifts you receive, and allowances given by your family. Your budget must be balanced. 

After completing your monthly budget, write a brief essay about the struggles you may have faced in developing a balanced budget. If it was easy to do, you will write your essay about why it was easy to do.

In groups of three, create a short play focusing on the need to budget, to develop a balanced budget, and to stick to it.