April 24th Activity of the Day: What’s Your Food Budget?
Food is one of those costs that high school students take for granted until they actually have to pay for it themselves. They may get by with a meal plan for a few years in college..but they may also tire of it quickly and decide after their freshman year to go it alone when it comes to their calories. I like this activity (Research: Your Monthly Food Budget) for a few reasons: it encourages students to envision their future selves, it leads to conversations with parents/guardians about money matters and it develops basic budgeting skills.
The activity begins by asking students to think about their future selves and how they plan to feed themselves (cook vs. go out). Questions include their cooking experience, dietary requirements and whether they consider themselves bargain shoppers. Next, the students get to choose a strategy to calculate the cost of their weekly grocery bill. These choices include reviewing their family’s grocery receipts or creating an actual meal plan for the week and then determining what those items would cost at a local grocery story (or online grocer).
Now that groceries are taken care of, the next step is to determine the frequency and cost of dining out. Add that to their grocery cost and voila, you have a monthly food budget. The activity ends by having students reflect on whether they believe this amount is a reasonable figure.
About the Author
Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.