Sunday, October 23, 2011

Math Journaling: A Simple Budget

Our Math Journaling is something our children love to do and we typically work in them a few times a week. It was Corin's suggestion last year that we use notebooks for Math Journals as she loves working with numbers and math concepts. Math Journaling is a wonderful exploration of living math and number practice where we can journal about our trips to the store, unit pricing, percentages, integers, gas mileage and a variety of concepts used in daily life.

The other day we worked on creating a simple budget where I gave them a monthly income of $1400 a month and wrote a few typical bills in fixed and non fixed categories. I explained the fixed and non fixed categories such as rent or mortgage and car payments being fixed where they do not change and remain the same every month. I then explained the non fixed categories such as groceries, clothing and entertainment did change and were areas you could cut back in if the budget does not add up right.

I gave them each one amount only for their income of $1400 a month however I gave them each a different amount and this number was what they had to pay in rent.  They had to work the budget for all the rest I had given them which included car payments, utilities, heating, gas for the car, car insurance, groceries, clothing and entertainment.

It was interesting to watch them give each category a value they perceived they may spend in each category, I did help show them how to add up the numbers as they went along, Shae already knew how to do this however Corin has not had much experience in adding up columns where you have to carry numbers.

At the end of this, they had to show monthly total income, monthly total expenses and then the difference to see if they had a positive or negative number. The only category I saw them both really unrealistic in was how much they would spend in gas for a car monthly, they both were REALLY short in this area listing around 20 bucks for which I laughed and explained perhaps if they had a hybrid car this would be the case!  Other than that their prices were shockingly accurate!

Shae fell short and was 77 dollars in the negative, Corin was $16 in the positive!  I told them they did not have to correct anything as I was showing them how easy it is to go over budget yet it drove Shae nuts and he tweaked his budget until his expenses matched his income! I was quite proud of him for taking that initiative! I talked with Corin on what she might do with the money she had as a surplus! It was a great experience that both kids were really excited about.

They asked if we could do a lot more work in this area so I said yes, we can do all sorts of scenarios of different rents or mortgages,  incomes, bills etc and they could even research on the computer for ideas on rent costs. Corin went racing back to the computer laughing gleefully as she shouted I am going to research RENT!!!!!!! She came back with I got some numbers and I am not telling as Shae may copy my rent costs and he can look up his own!

Who knows maybe in a few weeks they can take over the families budget and finances completely! I feel if they get nothing else from math learning how to budget and manage one's finances is the most important use for math they can get, one area I feel the public schools lack completely in where managing personal finances should be on top.

In any case the kids surprised me by their enthusiasm in this area and it was a wonderful experience to share with them and I look forward to more exploration of finances and budgeting with them!