Melody Casey
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Education Standards

    To Spend, Borrow, or Save? That Is the Question (AIG IRP)

    To Spend, Borrow, or Save? That Is the Question (AIG IRP)


    During a unit on financial literacy, this lesson gives students the chance to consider the options that consumers face when dealing with their money and to observe what happens to money when consumers make different decisions about how to use it. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Overview

    Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: During a unit on financial literacy, this lesson gives students the chance to consider the options that consumers face when dealing with their money and to observe what happens to money when consumers make different decisions about how to use it. 

    Time Frame: 2-3 class periods 

    Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

    • Extension

    Adaptations for AIGs:

    • Process
    • Product

    Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: This lesson gives AIG students the opportunity to work with content that is abstract at this age level, to evaluate and judge decisions that people make in order to draw conclusions about these decisions, and to consider cultural impacts on decision making. As well, students must complete a real-world task (RAFT) that requires planning and presentation skills.

    Needed Resources/Materials:

    • Fake “Monopoly” money
    • Sample credit card statement (readily available online)

    Stage 1: Engage

    Give each student a $500 bill, and ask the students to brainstorm everything they might be able to do with the money. Write their responses for all to see. Working in small groups (3-4 students per group), the students sort the responses into different categories. 
    Pose the following types of questions to the whole group: 

    • What kinds of choices do we have when it comes to money? What are our options? 
    • Are some options wiser than others? Why? How might we evaluate or judge these options? 
    • What factors should we consider when making decisions about money? 
    • If you had $500, what would you choose to do with it? Why?

    Stage 2: Elaborate

    Explain to students that we have different choices when it comes to what we do with our money. Among those choices are spending it, borrowing more of it, and saving it. The trick is to figure out when you should do which.

    Working in pairs, the students will create and complete a three-column chart listing circumstances when one should decide between spending, borrowing, and saving money. Provide examples to get them started: paying for college, fixing up your house, getting a great deal on an electronic device, starting a business, purchasing a piece of expensive art, buying the newest pair of Nikes, preparing to retire, getting food when you have none. Feel free to add other ideas, and encourage the students to come up with their own. Stress that there are no right answers and that the important thing is to be able to justify their decisions. Point out that some of these situations might fall in more than one column.

    Make sure that the students understand that when money is borrowed it must be paid back plus interest. Show the students a credit card statement that indicates an outstanding balance. Go over the information provided on the statement, and point out where it shows how long it will take to repay the amount borrowed (Students may be surprised that using a credit card is borrowing money!).

    Once the pairs of students have had time to assign circumstances to specific columns, invite them to share their ideas with the whole group. Pose the following types of questions:

    • When is it appropriate to borrow money? How should one make this determination?
    • When is saving most important? In what circumstances?
    • When is spending the most logical and wise move? Why?
    • Why do people make different decisions? 
    • Why do people have such a difficult time saving money? What does this say about people and our current culture? Is this a problem? Why or why not? If so, how can we overcome this problem?
    • Should people be required to follow certain guidelines about the use of their money? Why or why not?

    Stage 3: Evaluate

    Provide students with the following prompt: You are a successful financial advisor who has helped many individuals and families make wise decisions about the use of their money. During your career, you have had clients from all different backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Now, it is time to share your wisdom with a larger audience. You have been asked to speak at a conference, and the audience will include many people who are new to your field. Your task is to create an engaging and informative presentation that will help these novice financial advisors be as successful with helping their clients as you have been. What will you tell them about how to help their clients manage their money?

    Your presentation MUST include at least 3 visuals, a story about a past client, and specific advice you’ve given to your own clients. Your presentation must be no longer than 10 minutes, so you should consider the organization of the information you’ll share as well as which pieces of information are most crucial to the success of these future financial advisors.

    Your presentations will be evaluated based on the following:

    • Clarity and quality of communication and visuals
    • Use of at least 3 visuals
    • Appropriateness of story shared during presentation
    • Accuracy and logic of advice 
    • Level of audience engagement 

    TEACHER NOTES: Allow students to conduct research as needed as they work to complete this task. As well, they may work in pairs or small groups to complete this task. As they work, pose questions to hone the students’ thinking and remind them of previous discussions about financial decision-making.