Savings Ups and Downs
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This is a level 3 number, algebra, and statistics activity from the Figure It Out series. It relates to Stage 6 of the Number Framework.
use addition and subtraction to solve money problems
find the chance of an event occurring
Number Framework Links
These pages involve adding and subtracting 2- and 3-digit whole numbers and recording and interpreting financial information in a table.
The mathematical calculations should be able to be done mentally by students working at stage 6. Students at stage 5 should also be able to do these calculations, but they may need the support of materials such as money
In this game, the students learn that there are consequences, both positive and negative, for every financial decision they make. A good financial decision is likely to bring more benefits than a bad one. Although you can’t always prepare for every eventuality, making allowances for unforeseen circumstances helps minimise the
The students will be keen to identify, assess, and manage the risks of the “Chance” squares in the board game. This is good thinking!
In this simulation game, the players try to reach a savings target as a team by earning and saving income; at the same time, they are hampered by unforeseen circumstances that decrease their bank balance. The players record the deposits and withdrawals on a banking transactions record sheet that they later reflect on and analyse.
Some students will need assistance with interpreting the transactions record sheet, especially if they have not done the activity Living Expenses, on pages 7–9, which has a similar table. Look at the sample transactions record on page 23 together and talk about the meanings of words such as transaction, withdrawals, deposits,
and balance. Ask What information can you find out from looking at this table?
The students may discuss the questions in more depth if you facilitate a discussion together as a larger group rather than the students just discussing them with the people with whom they played the game.
Question 3 asks the students to reflect on how they might play the game differently in order to save more. This game does rely on chance to a certain extent, so you can’t guarantee you could save more if you decided to work longer hours or to shop around for cheaper items like new tyres as you could in real life. However, the students may decide to minimise the risk of losing money by not gambling their “family’s savings” on the “Chance” option because, although they could make big financial gains at this point, they could also make big losses.
Some additional reflective questions are:
Why are clear, accurate, financial transaction records useful? (They give accurate information about what has happened to your money that you can then use for future planning rather than just guessing.)
What did you learn from playing this game that you could use in your own money management?
When might you have to spend money unexpectedly and make your savings balance decrease?
Some people are savers, and some people are spenders (either sensibly or impulsively or a mixture of both). Is it better to be one type rather than the other? Which do you think you are? What can you learn from the attitudes and
habits of the opposite type from you? (Neither type is better or worse than the other, but there are times when it is useful and appropriate to use the attributes of one or the other type.)
Students could design their own transactions record to keep track of their spending and saving, perhaps using a spreadsheet.
Invite a budgeting or banking expert into your classroom to share ideas about financial planning and keeping track of one’s money. Ask them to talk about how to avoid some of the common financial problems and where people can go and what they can do if they get into financial difficulties.
Social Sciences Links
• Understand how groups make and implement rules and laws (Social Studies, level 3)
• Understand how people make decisions about access to and use of resources (Social Studies, level 3)
Students could investigate the issues involved in philanthropy and giving money away. What kinds of things or organisations do people give money to? What would the students themselves personally support if they had $1,000 to give away benevolently? Students could pose questions to ask a visitor from a not-for-profit organisation.
Answers to Activities
A game exploring financial decisions
1. a.–b. Answers will vary each time you play the game.
2. a. Answers will vary.
b. Answers will vary. You might feel sad, bad, or mad about it; the person who made the decision might feel they need to make it up to their family somehow.
3. a. Answers will vary. How you use “Chance” could affect the outcomes.
b. Discussion will vary.
4. Answers will vary. Ideas to think about: decisions about what to spend your pocket money on, which clothing items to buy if your parents give you a set amount to spend, what to save up for, how you might earn some extra income, or whether you might give some of your money away to a good cause. For example, using the jeans example in the illustration:
Answers will vary. No one can be absolutely sure that financial decisions will work out because this depends on the amount of risk involved and other aspects out of our control. However, careful planning and thinking about consequences will help in decision making.