For Teachers

Budgeting Projects for Middle School Students

Here are our favorite budgeting projects to help middle school students learn how to manage their money.

boy-creating-a-budget

Your middle school students will thank you for teaching them budgeting skills. The strategies they learn in budgeting projects will help them transition to high school and beyond. When they go in-depth and see how budgets work and apply to their lives, they learn the concept much more thoroughly. Here are some of the best budgeting project ideas for your middle schoolers! Head over to my budgeting lesson plans center for more curriculum tips.

Personal Budget Planning Project

In this project, students learn how to achieve their dream lives and the amount of money needed to support it. They see how to research the homebuying process, find a car, balance a budget, and research careers that can fund their desired lifestyles. All the materials you need are here, including directions on setting up their budgets in Google Sheets, links to career research sites, and more. 

Your students probably dream of a lavish lifestyle, and can benefit from seeing how much money it takes to afford it realistically. This project gives students a focus on careers and salaries and helps them in their budgeting skills. 

The Average American Budget

This project from Next Gen Personal Finance includes hands-on and kinesthetic activities with multiple components. Students race around the room to match budget categories with dollar amounts, put specific expenses into categories, and see how different budgets work with similar incomes. All the materials you will need are included as links in the Google Doc.

This project will help students grasp crucial budgeting concepts while they compete with their classmates. They see how people’s spending varies and how it is important to stay within your means when calculating budgets.

Class Pet Project

This budgeting project involves your class pet. It focuses on needs vs. wants, showing students how to prioritize spending and saving. You will need a 2-column graphic organizer. On the right side, list all the things the class pet needs to survive, and on the left, list the items that are not necessary but will improve your rabbit or guinea pig’s daily existence. Have kids research the costs and come up with a weekly and monthly budget, using pretend money to pay for basics and unexpected expenses.

Kids – even middle schoolers – will love learning how to care for animals. They will also see how to budget for specific expenses, save for bills that may come up, and determine how wants and needs should factor into their planning.

The Real Budget – Money Management for Students

 In this project, students use a combination of research, critical thinking, and math to balance a budget. They fill in worksheets for both short-term and longer-term goals, seeing where they spend most of their money. They learn how to analyze careers and incomes, seeing how they can balance a budget no matter how much they make in the future. The activity takes approximately two weeks and provides many opportunities for independent learning and partner activities. 

Many middle-school students see budgets as straightforward, even easy. They think that if someone gets a specific salary, they get all that money and can easily afford expenses in many categories. This project shows them that they need to decrease spending, increase savings, and monitor costs closely to be successful in their budgeting.

Plan a Dream Vacation

Many students love to travel, and this project allows them to plan out the details. They use a wide variety of media to learn about budgets and research travel costs and options, showing them that the process can be fun and challenging. They watch a PowerPoint, use graphic organizers to research destinations and various expenses, and use Google Slides to compile their information. 

This project is ideal for middle schoolers who want to learn adult skills and gain independence. Creating specific budgets that allow them to enjoy a stress-free vacation shows how important planning is to a successful trip. They also learn to budget for all sizes of purchases, from tipping the valet to museum entrance fees.

Shopping Spree Project

Your middle school students might enjoy shopping and going to the mall. If so, this project is ideal. They get to control a budget to buy the perfect outfits and clothes from the store. They also learn how to calculate discounts, see the power of comparison shopping, and use coupons. This activity is great for teaching percent while showing kids practical money math skills, and all the materials are simple and easy to understand. 

Students see many details as they work on this project that they can learn from in the future. Sales tax, fair pricing, and finding the best deal are all things students gain an understanding of so they can be savvy shoppers. 

Summer Vacation Project

This project shows students how to budget for a vacation, given a specific set of activities and expenses. Kids get to pretend they’re traveling to Disney and see the costs associated with the trip, using accurate data they find through research. They record their notes and findings on worksheets and understand how planning for every detail is essential. 

The project establishes seven days of vacation, which kids use as they go through the project. They learn valuable skills, including planning for different time periods and discovering where to look for specific travel-related information. This project is ideal for the end of the year as kids get ready to go on summer break, but can be used anytime.

Basics In Building A Budget

Scholastic has an excellent project that teachers can use to show middle school students how to build a budget. The included materials are colorful and engaging, sure to keep your students on task and focused. They also see how and why the math skills they learn in middle school are so key to real life, as they use decimals, fractions, and percentages.

Budgeting is a crucial skill for your learners, and this project will help them get it. It also comes with bonus materials that connect to budgeting and enhance their money education. You can display the included posters and have kids perform various extension activities, giving them an excellent understanding of budgets.

About the Author

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is a National Board Certified teacher with over two decades of experience in the classroom. He loves working with students of all ages in many subjects, but particularly in practical areas like money education, to help kids achieve their goals. When he is not teaching or writing about financial literacy, you can find him surfing, hiking, skiing, or traveling to new places.

Last updated on: August 22, 2022