Having a budget is nice, but it doesn’t change actual behavior. Real change in behavior comes from paying attention to your habits, and we know how hard it is to change spending habits. Banzai courses give a clear picture of how spending habits affect our lives in very real ways.
Think about the times you learned about budgeting growing up. You might have gotten a depressing, Puritanical lesson about how you shouldn’t spend money, a perspective that most of us are familiar with. That way of budgeting and thinking about money is counterproductive. If kids feel only guilt when it comes to thinking about their money, they won’t want to think about it at all. In this article, we’ll go into the Banzai view on spending habits.
When kids hear they’re about to get a budgeting lesson, they assume they’re going to get a severe lecture about how spending money is bad. We don’t teach that spending is bad. We teach that spending money at the wrong time is bad.
For example, Plus students have the goal of saving toward a down payment on a home. At one point in the game, they have to confront the age-old dilemma: daily coffee in the morning.
Notice we’re not suggesting that you never have coffee again. If you continue to go out for coffee every morning, it piles up over six months:
The more moderate choice for Java the Hut would be option C, where you make the coffee yourself. Don’t assume you can just stop an ingrained habit cold-turkey, because most of the time that doesn’t happen.
One of the first things kids do when they start earning income is spend it on fun; at that point in their lives, they don’t have a long-term perspective. Of course we should try to teach kids about delayed gratification, while also teaching them the value of spending money at the right time. It must be coupled with an appreciation for saving and trade-offs. Money spent today can’t be recouped tomorrow.
In all three courses (Plus, Teen, and Junior) students have to confront this issue every time they spend money in a scenario where they go out.
In Junior, students have to decide whether they’re going to take a day off of running the lemonade stand and go to the water park with a friend:
There are always unexpected expenses that you didn’t plan for, so going on that trip ends up incurring extra stuff:
In Plus, students have to decide whether they’ll go on an expensive vacation to Mexico.
Normally it would give you pause to spend that much money on a vacation. But notice the hint that you’ve been visibly tired at work. If you decide to not go on vacation in Plus, your emotional state—and wallet—take a hit:
Keeping a budget doesn’t mean you have to be a machine. Budgeting is not self-deprivation—it’s self-control.
Our simulation takes students through the ups and downs of spending. We teach students that their spending habits all incur trade-offs of some kind, be they positive or negative. Some financial decisions are good sometimes, and the same can be bad at other times. Daily spending habits can be mitigated, and spending money on fun doesn’t have to be curbed completely.
We believe that students who experiment with these real-life scenarios in Junior, Teen, or Plus will have a clear picture of how spending habits can affect their lives.