Can You Make Ends Meet? Game

Topics: budgeting, insurance, consumer decisions

The purpose of this activity is to simulate real-life financial decisions and experiences. Students are divided into four “families” that have just moved to a new town. The families are told their monthly income and their housing expenses, but they must decide themselves what kind of insurance to buy, what kind of transportation to use, and what kind of wants they can afford. Each family is given a set of tasks and life events they experience for four consecutive months, and the goal is that at the end of the four months they will make ends meet.


  1. Family Profiles documents (the Profiles include a budget chart)
  2. Life Events cards for Family 1, Family 2, Family 3, and Family 4
  3. Insurance Station Guidelines
  4. Transportation Station Guidelines
  5. “Life Event” Station Guidelines
  6. Payday/Housing Station Guidelines
  7. Shopper’s Court Station Guidelines
  8. Insurance Products and Cards Document
  9. Transportation Product Options Sheet
  10. Want Cards Sheet
  11. Play money in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500.
  12. Five Sheets of Blank Paper
  13. One Large Manila Envelope Labeled “Community Savings Bank”
  14. Four Small Envelopes, each one marked with the name of a family (i.e., an envelope for Marquis, an envelope for the Morenos, etc.)
  15. Four calculators
  16. 3 bags of bite-sized candy

Set up:

  1. Print the Family Profiles document.
  2. Print the Life Event Cards for each family and cut them up by month. When you are finished you should have four slips (Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, and Month 4) for each family.
  3. Print each of the five Station Guidelines documents.
  4. Print the Insurance Products and Cards document. Cut out the insurance cards.
  5. Print the Want Cards sheet and cut out the cards.
  6. Print the play money, cut it out, and organize it according to denomination.
  7. On the five sheets of blank paper, write the names of the five stations: “Insurance Station,” “Transportation Station,” “Life Events Station,” “Shopper’s Court,” and “Payday/Housing Station.”
  8. Find a room where you will have an open space, such as a gymnasium or cafeteria. If you are in a classroom, clear the desks so that the center of the room is open.
  9. Create five “stations.” Designate five tables or desks, and position them apart from each other around the room. Put the station sheets from step 7 and the appropriate set of station guidelines at one table/desk each.
  10. Display the Want Cards face-up at “Shopper’s Court” station with a piece of candy for every $50 that the card is worth. (For example, if the price of the item on the want card is $100, put two pieces of candy on the card).
  11. Put the Insurance Products document at the Insurance Station.
  12. Put the play money at the “Payday/Housing Station.”


  • Choose five students to be “station clerks.” Have these students sit down at their stations and read the station guidelines.
  • Divide the rest of the students evenly into four “families.”
  • Give each family a family profile and give them 3-5 minutes to look over it.
  • Tell the class that the four families are moving to a new town. They already have housing, but they must shop around to purchase other needs. Tell them that they will be given a task sheet each month and must perform every task on the sheet. Tell them that the “station clerks” will be making sure that the families are performing the tasks. Tell the station clerks to cross the tasks off on their charts when the families perform the tasks.
  • Hand out to each family their respective Month 1 task sheet. Tell them that during this month the tasks will have them conduct research on their various options, and it is helpful to write down the options in their notes section of the Profile Sheets. Then they will have to discuss what options they want to choose with their family members. At this point they are to come up with a budget. Help the students as needed in creating their budgets. After creating budgets, students must return to the tables and purchase their products. (This is written in their tasks, but it would be helpful to say this for Month 1 before the students begin performing the tasks).
  • Tell all the families that at any point they may deposit money into the bank or take money out of the bank. The bank is located at the “Shopper’s Court” station.
  • When all the families are finished with the Month 1 tasks, hand each family their Month 2 task sheet and have them complete the tasks. Then have them complete Months 3 and 4.
  • After the four “months” are over, gather all the families in one section of the room. You will now go to each station table to see if the families performed all their tasks. If a family performs all the tasks at any station, each member of that group will receive two pieces of candy.
  • Have the students turn in their money. For every $50 that a family has after all four rounds, each member of the family will receive one piece of candy.