Here you will find the Excel Budget Spreadsheet for a really great High School Budget Project! This is very effective and can cause students to really think and begin to take their education seriously. It takes about two weeks with block scheduling. This is the fifth in a series of 8 posts about the budget project.
If you go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Page, you can access all the budget project files in one place. Click here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Awesome-Budget-Project-Thorough-and-Effective-1585970.
Teacher Directions for Excel Budget Spreadsheet Template
This file is the Excel Template that students will plug in their own numbers into to create their own budget. I show them the example Excel spreadsheet that I did with the college degree income, and then they fill it out for themselves. You could also upload this to google drive, convert it to a google docs spreadsheet, and then have them download it or put it in their own google docs account. Basically, it is a budget spreadsheet with line items for each of the things that are required for the Budget Project.
Students will need to complete the Net Pay Worksheet before doing this Excel Budget Spreadsheet so that they can plug in the correct numbers at the top. Students are always amazed at how much taxes are taken out! If you need to access the Net Pay Worksheet, click here.
Once students put in their net pay, have them start looking around for an apartment for where they want to live. They will need to put in a link to the apartment complex to get full credit. If they have a roommate, whoever finds the apartment complex first will have to retrace their steps on the other students’ computer to get the link again, or email it.
When putting in a link, tell them to press space bar after pasting it so that the link becomes active.
One thing I learned when teaching this project is that students have no frame of reference for a database, or for Excel. The concept of having the columns add up is like the invention of sliced bread – they are blown away with how easy it is! I have seen other budget projects, but I feel that this one tops the rest because it is actually realistic to the 21st century with the use of Excel. They can do it on paper before they do it on the Excel file, if they want, just have them copy the numbers to Excel. I did require for my students to upload this to a dropbox on the school web site to get full credit. I wouldn’t take a hard copy because sometimes their arithmetic didn’t add up, and I didn’t want to have to physically add up all the numbers myself to double check. This way they can play around with the numbers in each category and practice making tough decisions about what gets cut, and what gets saved.
One of the downsides of this entire project is the amount of grading necessary at the end, when they turn in their Powerpoint and Excel spreadsheet online. One thing you could do is to have them print their excel spreadsheet (you may want to format it so that it’s only on one page first, though) and then turn that in. That saves the time it takes to download it from whatever dropbox they use online, and it allows you to physically write on the spreadsheet so they know where they went wrong, if at all. Most students do pretty well with this. I set up the rubric so that the highest grade they could get was a C if they had a deficit. Otherwise, that defeats the whole purpose of the budget project. The biggest mistake I saw was that they would get mixed up between monthly expenses and total expenses. For instance, they would put the total cost of the car into the transportation line. I had to teach them that everything is based off of monthly cost. Additionally, they would forget to calculate monthly groceries because it’s given to them in weekly cost in the handout. They need to multiply $40 per week times 4 to get the monthly cost of groceries. Always encourage them to save as much as possible, because they need to be prepared for unexpected expenses and for their retirement. One thing I did as an extension of this assignment was to have them figure out their total savings if they actually invested their long term savings monthly at 8% over 43 years. They used the Econ EdLink Compound Interest Calculator website to determine their total savings for retirement. I had one or two who would have been millionaires if they did what they said they would do for their budget project!
Students were really intrigued by this project and enjoyed the process of finding their apartment and car. I hope you enjoy!
Click here to get the Excel Budget Spreadsheet:
Please leave a comment below if you found this helpful, or have any other tips!