By Activity Bank on Sep 19, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Mary Jane Clark and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

This activity is designed to help students learn to manage their money. Activities may be adapted for individual students by integrating skills such as reading, addition and subtraction. Students will have a chance to practice estimating, planning and problem solving. Lessons include Math, Concept Development, English Language Arts and Independent Living Skills.


  • Paper and pen or brailler
  • Money, both coins and paper



  • Help the student select an item to buy or an event they would like to attend. Research or estimate the cost. Then, make a personal finance record listing income and expenses to determine how much money he will be able to set aside each week.
  • Have the student make a list of items to buy. Help the student break down the list into necessary purchases and items for pleasure or luxury items.


  • Have the student write a shopping list of items he would like to buy.
  • Have the student read recipes he would like to make and select items to buy. Add these items to the shopping list.
  • Organize the shopping list by like items. Read the list and write like items together.
    • Random items: milk, paper towels, cheese, napkins
    • Like items: milk, cheese, paper towels, napkins
  • Lists may also be written in order of where items appear in the store. For example, if the produce section is the first one encountered in the store, all produce items should be first on the list.


Using a shopping list, assign estimated costs to the items on the list (rounded to the nearest dollar amount) to determine the amount needed for shopping.


  • Have the student place money saved in a personal bank, and have him keep a record of the amount placed in the bank each week. If necessary, have the student use a calculator for the addition operation. When personal savings reach the amount needed for the activity or item, have the student subtract the amount from the savings record.
  • Have the student keep records of money spent each day and the items purchased. Break the list down into necessity items such as food, personal hygiene items, clothing, and payment of bills, and luxury items such as games, candy and movies. Have the student determine how much money is needed and how much is actually spent.
  • Calculator skills may be developed in this activity. Students can use the calculator for simple addition and subtraction in each activity.

Problem Solving

Set up situations in which the student must make decisions about which items he really must have and which items he can do without. Help the student prioritize his spending needs by giving him less money than he needs to purchase all the items on his list.


When working on coin combinations, give the student only coins to purchase items.