Thumbnail of the the first page of the curriculum. It shows a calculator, pen and a piece of paper with a dollar sign on it, as well as the 4-H clover, Spartan helmet and MSU Extension wordmark.

Spartan Dollars and Cents: Realistic Budget Simulation


June 5, 2023 - Author: ,

The hands-on Spartan Dollars and Cents: Realistic Budget Simulation teaches participants how to prepare a real-world budget. In the simulation, participants receive an entry-level job and salary. They then make realistic lifestyle decisions through a questionnaire, which determines their monthly expenses. Participants calculate their income and analyze their expenses. They may need to explore alternative options to enjoy the standard of living they envision. During the simulation, unanticipated life occurrences happen that will have an impact on their budget. The value of creating a budget to track monthly income and expenses is reinforced through problem-solving, decision-making, and wise use of resources.

The “Facilitator Guide” section gives fundamental details about the simulation and explains how to use the accompanying appendices.


This budget simulation teaches participants how to prepare a usable budget. It reinforces the value of creating a budget to track monthly income and expenses.


Participants will:
• Create a usable budget for a simulated month.
• Explore how to make informed decisions.
• Understand how lifestyles choices affect monthly finances.
• Experience unexpected events that affect a personal or family budget.

Age of Participants

This activity works best with high school youth. It could also be used with middle school youth with assistance from multiple volunteers.

Group Size

This activity can be done individually but is more impactful when done as a group. It can accommodate up to 20 youth; group size can be increased by duplicating income cards. With a group larger than 20, additional helpers should assist participants.


1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the group and the participants’ ages.

Life Skills

• Wise use of resources
• Decision-making
• Problem-solving



Accessibility Questions:

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