Teaching Students How to Budget for a Simple Shopping Trip

Shopping is an important life skill, and knowing how much money you can spend is essential! We had a school store when students could spend their hard earned school bucks each week. Without fail, students would just grab anything they saw that they were interested in, and then we would have to help them narrow down their purchases. And then there was always that student who thought they could only spend exactly the amount of money he had, instead of including options that would have cost less as well.

So, as many of my students were visual learners, as most students with special needs are, I created this visual strategy to help them learn what exactly they could (and couldn't) spend their money on each week).

And of course, once a week while they were shopping, was not the most ideal time to practice this concept, so I created worksheets so that students could practice in the classroom before they went shopping!

Budgeting Visuals

These posters and cards can be displayed in the classroom and also kept at students desks while they work in order to help them determine if they have enough money to spend on an item.


A budget is defined as the money you have to spend and is taught to be circled on the number line. Then everything to the left of the budget is colored green - which means yes, you have enough money to buy it. And then all the numbers to the right are colored, meaning no, you don't have enough money to buy items at these prices.



Budgeting Worksheet Practice

Once students start to learn and understand the number line concept, they are ready to practice, but not in a shopping experience quite yet.

There are two types of worksheets to practice this concept with. The first gives students an item and they have to answer if it is in the budget or not. The second type of worksheet has students compare two items and then choose the one that is in their budget.

 Students can use a number line visual while working on these worksheets in order to help them determine if that item is in their budget or not. 


These worksheets are leveled by price amounts, ranging from up to $5, to up to $100. In addition to the different amounts on each worksheets, there are 3 different levels for students.

  • BASIC Level 1– the item that is in the budget is the same number as the budget – great for beginners. Essentially, they are answering if the numbers match or not. This is for your lowest students, who even with the number line might not be able to grasp the concept. Many students can (and should) skip this level.
  • REGULAR Level 2 –  the item that is in the budget is a smaller number than the budget. Students who understand the number line concept on worksheets taught previously will start here. Prices at this level only include dollars, not change.
  • ADVANCED Level 3 - the level is the same as level 2 except with dollar amounts that include change for the prices. 

There is also a bonus question included for each level in the "Is it in your Budget" worksheets. This question asks, "if you answered no, how more much more money do you need?" I wrote this as a bonus question for those students who will get the budgeting part done quicker than the rest of the class and also for those students who are ready for more of a challenge. They can figure out how much more money they would need for items that they answered "no".

Real Practice

Now, it is time for practice! Whether this is pretend school money for a school store, a classroom simulation, or a community experience, lots of real practice is essential to make sure students can carry over this skill from worksheets to real types of situations. 

In my classroom, I would have students count their money before they left to shop, and then they could take a budget card that was already filled in with the budget and the red/green visuals (for amounts 1-20). Or I would give them a blank number line and have them fill out the colors themselves before going shopping.

Then while shopping, students can look at their visual and see where the price is for the item they are interested in and if the price is in the green, they know that they can purchase it!

What teachers are saying about this resource

Morgan says: "I had two students who needed to work on this concept and was having a hard time. This packet proved to be a great way for them to grasp the concept! And now it's updated, so we have so much more we can work on!"

Patricia says: "This resource is very thorough, easy to understand, and easy to use. It also has plenty of levels to choose from to help beginners all the way to higher level learners. I think this the best visual for teaching if you have enough money concepts."

Elizabeth says: "I used these with my middle school life skills students for an entire month! They finally got the concept of a budget."

Mary says: "Breezy is the best seller on tpt for special ed! Her resources have saved me time and time again as a first year high school life skills teacher. You NEED this resource if you are working on budgeting with students. I haven't found anything as good as this!!! Most of my students require visual aides in their work. Leave it to Breezy, yet again, to create incredible worksheets. It's so neat to see my students going to the grocery store and tell me if they have enough money to buy items. These worksheets are everything!!!!"

Use this strategy in YOUR classroom!

This strategy was a complete game changer for my students, and I hope it will help your students too!
Try it out with your students and grab these worksheets and visuals HERE! Together we can help your students gain independence in their shopping skills!

More of a visual learner yourself? See the video explaining this resource below. And, as always, let me know if you have any questions!

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