Andrea Ferrero, Co-founder & Executive Director, Pocket Change, K-12 & College Personal Finance
I’ve spent the last decade teaching and talking about money in classrooms around the world. One constant that stands out from age 6 to 60 is the fear of being bad at money. The topic of money is emotional and financial systems are complex and often confusing.
I'm the Executive Director of Pockets Change, we're a nonprofit that builds financial resilience through Hip Hop pedagogy in K-12 classrooms and communities. I'm always looking for tools that help our teaching team connect with students, parents, and educators. WipeBooks stood out to me as a sustainable tool we can use online and in-person. They’re easy to use and transport and make fantastic ready to go resources.
Let’s go beyond budgeting together and explore how Wipebook Flipcharts can open discussions around spending stories and support deeper thinking on budgeting, habit development, and financial resilience.
Sharing Spending Stories
When it comes to budgeting we need to put aside arbitrary rules or formulas. The first step is figuring out where our money is going.
Write down the last three things you remember buying. In person, I’m a big fan of writing these on sticky notes. Virtually they can be shared in the chat. Either way they begin to build a nice wall of spending for us to begin exploring personal values.
Where you spend your money is a representation of what you value. You ALWAYS put your money where your mouth is. Once we have a visual of recent expenses we can begin to categorize and sort our spending into the Spending Values Matrix. These four categories are an evolution of the urgent important matrix used in business. Looking at the examples on our wall of spending, discuss what might fit into each category. It’s important to note that spending plans are personal and what fits into the nothing for one person might fit into the details for someone else.
- The Basics are what we need to live life. It might include rent, utilities, and groceries.
- The Details are what feed us emotionally and make us feel like ourselves. It might include snacks, sneakers, video games, or art supplies
- The Nothing is the black hole of spending. The things we buy when we’re tired, hungry. or stressed. These are things we forget about almost as soon as we buy them. It might include retail therapy, convenience items and other things you don’t remember buying.
- The YES are things we save up for, it’s being able to say yes to opportunities and to taking care of ourselves and the people that matter to us in the future. It might include a savings account for emergencies, saving to take classes, or saving for travel.
Sorting expenses is a fantastic way to normalize discussing our spending habits and celebrate the things that matter most to us. Our wants are needs too! If students have differences of opinion on where something fits into the matrix it can be a great time to note just how personalized spending plans are. It can be an opportunity to ask the student who shared the item where it belongs in the Spending Values Matrix for them and why. While many of us are working in the virtual classroom, you can flip your video in web conferencing tools to make sure things you write on the WipeBook read clearly as you categorize the items shared.
Meeting Money Buddies
Community conversations give us a space to develop an understanding of our personal relationship with money, new ways of thinking and talking about money, and the skills to take action and advocate for ourselves and others. That’s where money buddies come in. These can be quick pair-shares in chat or deeper discussions as small groups in break-out rooms.
Looking back at the whole group sorted Spending Values Matrix consider where you want your money to go. Have a discussion with money buddies about the following:
- What’s something small that you like spending money on occasionally? (The Details)
- What’s something you love and spend money on regularly? What are your non-negotiables? (The Details)
- What do you spend money on that you would be willing to give up or reduce to have more of what you want? (The Nothing)
Building Budgets & Habits That Work for You
Building a budget can feel daunting. It often brings up feelings of not having enough or"shoulding on yourself."With our spending values identified we can flip the script on tradition budgeting. Putting numbers to our expenses we can design spending plans that truly fit our lives and allow us to continue working towards our goals.
To create a spending plan, students may choose to work independently, with a partner, or a small group. Starting by physically writing it out helps frame it as a working draft. Students can then move numbers into a spreadsheet to track and adjust over time. For younger students, you can provide a prompt to develop a spending plan around such as planning a family dinner or planning for na upcoming event with a set amount of money to spend. We've had teachers use this with students to develop classroom budgets for science fair projects, student council events planning, and grade level celebrations.
- Start with The Basics - Write down all of The Basics and add them up. These are your bills.
- Calculate - How much do you have left over after The Basics are paid?
- Savings - How much do you want to put towards The YES?
- Decide on your Details- Put money towards the things that you value/li>
- Track your spending- Track one thing at a time (food, clothes, going out, etc.)
This year, I’m excited to see how WipeBook Flipcharts will promote collaboration and creativity throughout our other learning projects from designing the best bank to crafting powerful pitches. What projects might you bring to life with WipeBooks?
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