Activity: Choosing Where Your Money Goes

Living on a “20-Checkmark” Salary

Managing money means making choices – there is never enough money available for all of the things we’d like to have or do. This activity will help you decide what is most important to you, and help you think of all the necessities that must be considered when making a budget. 


How to Play:

Imagine you have a 20 checkmark ‘total budget’. Each of the options below costs a certain number of checkmarks, indicated by the number of boxes beside it. Your job is to decide where and how you’d like to spend your 20 checkmarks without going over budget. 

Use your notebook to record your choices, and to keep track of how many checkmarks you’ve used.



Housing with Utilities

Live with relatives sharing cost of utilities ☐ ☐

Share an apartment or house with others, including basic utilities ☐ ☐ ☐ 

Rent place of your own, including basic utilities ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐

Auto Insurance

Liability coverage only ☐ ☐

Complete coverage ☐ ☐ ☐ 


Health and Disability

No coverage – No Cost

Fringe benefits of job ☐ 

Basic health coverage ☐ ☐

Individual health & disability coverage ☐ ☐ ☐ 


Property and liability coverage ☐ 



No phone – No cost

Second hand cell phone with no data ☐ 

Cell phone on a payment plan with 2 GB of data/month ☐ ☐

New cell phone with 10 GB of data/month ☐ ☐ ☐



Make your own ☐ 

Purchase cards or small gifts occasionally ☐☐

Purchase frequent gifts for family and friends ☐ ☐ ☐ 



Change in piggy bank – No significant cost

Five percent of income ☐ 

Ten percent of income ☐ ☐



Borrow from relatives or friends – No cost

Buy at a garage sale or thrift shop ☐ 

Buy off Marketplace or similar ☐ ☐

Buy new furniture ☐ ☐ ☐ 



Hiking, walking, visiting friends, or going to the library – No cost

Streaming shows, snacks, picnics, driving around ☐ 

Cable TV, sports, video games, and going to movies ☐ ☐

Fishing, hunting, hobbies ☐ ☐

Regular concerts, vacations & spectator sports ☐ ☐ ☐ 


Personal care

Basic products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, drugstore make-up, etc. ☐ 

Occasional professional haircuts, basic personal care products ☐ ☐

Regular professional hairstyling, name brand personal care products ☐ ☐ ☐ 



Cook at home; dinner out once a week ☐ ☐

Frequent fast food lunches and weekly dinner out; cook other meals at home ☐ ☐ ☐ 

All meals away from home  ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐


Clothing & Laundry

Wear present wardrobe – No Cost

Use your sewing skills ☐ 

Buy at a discount store, thrift shop, or used clothing store ☐ 

Buy at a department store or vintage store ☐ ☐

Shop for designer clothes ☐ ☐ ☐ 



Do laundry at parents – No Cost

Use laundromat or shared laundry room; some dry cleaning ☐ 

Rent or purchase washer or dryer ☐ ☐ 



Walk or bike – No cost

Ride bus or join a carpool ☐

Buy fuel for shared car ☐ ☐

Buy used car and fuel ☐ ☐ ☐ 

Buy new car and fuel  ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐


More choices

Newspaper, magazine, or other subscriptions ☐ 

New TV, gaming console, or laptop/tablet ☐

Donations to charities or religious groups ☐ 

Gym membership or fitness classes ☐ ☐ 

Having a pet ☐ 

Going out to bars or clubs