Writing Reflection: What Were The Last Ten Things You Purchased?

Oct 30, 2015
Activity, Payment Types, Teaching Strategies, Advertising, Purchase Decisions, Writing assignment


Got this idea for a student writing assignment from a recent Forbes column in which people open their wallets and describe the last ten things they purchased while also providing the payment type, some context and the motivation for the purchase.

Here is an excerpt from a 19 year old college student:


1. Breakfast bagel sandwich: $7.78

Although I have a meal plan at my university, I occasionally treat myself to food from outside establishments for breakfast. On this day, I woke up before the dining options on my campus opened, so I dragged myself to a local coffee shop and ordered an overpriced, delicious bagel sandwich.

2. Uber ride to court sentencing: $26.00

Despite waking up early, I somehow forgot about a court sentencing I needed to attend for a reporting assignment. I had 25 minutes to get to the event before the hearing began. With shoelaces untied, messy hair and a distressed face, I ordered an Uber. Unfortunately, the Uber driver made a wrong turn when picking me up and didn’t reach me until 12 minutes after I ordered the ride. Once he picked me up, we made our way into Downtown D.C. Everything was looking fine. But then we hit traffic near the Lincoln Memorial; I had forgotten it was 9 a.m., rush hour. I should have taken the train and saved $24.

Notice how this exercise forces students to be reflective about their spending and perhaps make different decisions about spending in the future.  Two additional questions your students can answer at the end of the assignment:
  • What was your favorite purchase?
  • Any purchases that you regret?



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

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.