financial planning

Making Ends Meet…updated yet again

I have previously written about a financial planning project that I do with my grade 8 students called “Making Ends Meet”. You can read about it here and here. In this project the students are given the role of a recent graduate about to start their first post-university job. The students need to create a monthly budget so that they can move out on their own and ensure that they can pay all of their bills. I have always loved this project and thought that it was a good learning experience. The most valuable feedback, though, has been from former students. Over the last year or so I have heard from more and more students about how much of an impact this project had on their way of thinking, and how it opened their eyes to the world beyond their middle school existence. I am sharing the updated version that I did this past year and you can access it here. After the students create the budget they are given two unexpected problems to deal with as well as some other reflection questions. These are not part of the student handout, but I am happy to share with them if you contact me through Twitter.



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Making Ends Meet

Husband who broke his foot + car in the shop all week = missed #MTBos SundayFunday blog deadline.

One of my favourite math tasks is a financial planning activity for my grade 8 students titled “Making Ends Meet”. Unfortunately we did not get to complete it last year due to time constraints, and so the version that I am sharing is from the previous year.

In this task, students are given the role of a recent university graduate just entering the work force. Each student is given a job or career (picked randomly out of a jar) and must determine how to pay bills with a starting salary for that job or career. In order to prepare for this assignment, I researched starting salaries for those fields in Canadian dollars. Students begin by calculating take home pay after taxes (my students needed assistance with this step). They then use the net salary to determine a monthly budget for food, housing, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, miscellaneous expenses, and savings. Once students have completed the budget and presented their work in an orderly and logical manner, they are presented with an unexpected problem. I have created a whole list of problems, and they are variations of this:

“You were filling the bath when the phone rang. A friend’s car broke down and she needed you to pick her up. You left immediately to go help her, but you forgot about the bathtub. When you returned, there was water everywhere and the floor was ruined. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover this type of flooding. The repair bills were $750. Calculate and explain how this will affect your budget.”

There are 19 problems of this type on my list, and the students get a random problem by picking one out of a jar. I cannot share the full problem list here, as I don’t want my students to have access to them.

My students have told me that this was one of their favourite assignments and it made them aware about real life expenses. Hopefully I can fit it in this year, as it takes quite some time to complete. You can access the document here. I am happy to hear suggestions as to how to improve this activity.

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