Lesson 4

Spending What I Make


Lesson Goal:

Lesson 4 discusses: 1) decision-making; 2) peer pressure; 3) smart shopping


Learning Objectives:

The students will:

  • Explain and apply six steps in decision making.
  • Define peer pressure.
  • Describe techniques to combat negative peer pressure.
  • Tell the purpose of advertising.
  • Name advertising techniques and store strategies.

Content Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards

National Standards



  • Benefit - an advantage or good that comes from owning a good or using a service.
  • Cost - the price paid for a good or service.
  • Fact - a true statement that can be proven.
  • Impulse buy - an unplanned buying decision.
  • Opinion - an individual belief that cannot be proven.
  • Peer - a person of about the same age, grade, ability, etc.
  • Peer pressure - persuasion by peers to act a certain way. 



To reinforce Lesson 3, review these points:

  • Money should be saved for emergencies, future needs, education and retirement.
  • Children can save money in traditional savings accounts and other savings vehicles.


Part 1: Making Good Decisions

Materials Needed:

People make hundreds of decisions every day, like:

  • What will I wear today?
  • What do I want to eat for breakfast?
  • Which TV show should I watch tonight?
  • What songs do I want to listen to?
  • What should I get my mom for her birthday?

People don't give these decisions much thought. If they're bored with one show on TV, they can switch to another. If they don't like the school lunch menu items today, there's always tomorrow.

Some decisions are a little more important. If someone decides to sign up for baseball and discovers he can't hit, catch OR field balls, it could be a long season! If a person decides to get her hair cut in a style that turns out looking terrible, it could take a while to grow back.

As children get older, they begin making serious decisions, like:

  • What kind of a car should I buy?
  • What college will I attend?
  • What type of career or job do I want?

These types of decisions impact others, affect longer periods of time and involve large amounts of money, so it's important to make the best choices possible. Better decisions are made when people follow a logical, step-by-step process.


Reproducible: 6 Steps to Decision Making

Make copies of the reproducible 6 Steps to Decision Making. Discuss, and then assign the action steps below.

Step 1: Focus.

Action Step:

Have each student think of a decision he or she might need to make in the near future and write it on a sheet of paper. (Or use the back of the reproducible pages.) Examples:

  • What gift to buy for a friend or family member
  • How to spend a weekend or school break.

Step 2: Brainstorm.

Action Step:

Ask students to brainstorm and make note of the possible decisions they could make.

Step 3: Measure.

Action Step:

Invite students to take a few moments to think about what's most important to them about the decision and write it down.

Step 4: Compare.

Action Step:

Have students make a chart listing the "cost" of each choice as well as its possible benefit(s).

Step 5: Decide.

Action Step:

Have students choose an option based on Step 3 (Measure) and Step 4 (Compare). If time allows, ask each student to share his or her decision making process with the group.

Step 6: Reflect

Action Step:

If desired, have each student make note of his or her decision. Follow up later by assigning an essay that answers the Reflect questions on the reproducible 6 Steps to Decision Making.


Reproducible: 6-Step Decision Making

Make copies of the reproducible 6-Step Decision Making for every student. This reproducible reinforces the decision-making process described on the previous reproducible 6 Steps to Decision Making.  Review the directions and the example. The answers are found here. You may wish to discuss the worksheet as a whole-group activity.

Part 2: Avoiding The Pressure

A peer is someone who is close in age. Peer pressure means to be encouraged by peers, through words, actions or attitudes, to behave certain ways.

Peer pressure can be positive. For example, members of a sports team may cheer on teammates to do well. Classmates participating in a project together may insist everyone do a good job so the group will get a good grade.

But peer pressure can also be negative. Negative peer pressure can involve teasing, put-downs, begging and other tactics. When kids and adults face negative peer pressure, they can feel forced to do, say and think things that don't feel "right" to them. Why does negative peer pressure happen?

It's natural for children to want to be liked by and fit in with:

  • Good friends and others they're close to.
  • People they admire and want to be like, like older kids and celebrities.

Negative peer pressure can make people feel they can't be honest with others about who they really are and how they really feel for fear they might not be liked or accepted. When they "go along to get along," they can experience bad feelings because they're giving others the power that belongs in their hands alone - the power to make their own decisions.


Negative peer pressure involving money usually relates to 1) buying certain products or brand names; 2) spending more money than one can afford. Share the following tips in handling negative peer pressure. Underneath the tips are bullets specifically dealing with money.

Define yourself. Don't let others do it for you. Examine your values (see Lesson 1) and decide what's most important to you. Write down your values and review them as often as necessary.

  • Ask yourself before you buy: Is this really how I want to spend my cash? Let your buying decisions be guided by your values.

Be honest - with yourself and others. Decide where you stand and let others know.

  • When you agree to hang out with friends, be clear about what you can afford to spend. Don't be shy about sharing short- and long-term savings goals you may have. You might inspire others to come up with some of their own!

Prepare ahead. Imagine situations you could face and rehearse what you'll do and say ahead of time.

  • If you go somewhere with friends, take only what you can afford to spend. That way you can't be tempted to spend more.
  • If you know you shouldn't be spending money, don't hesitate to say, "Sorry, I can't make it." Good friends will always be OK with a nice "No."

Think differently. Come up with alternatives to your friends' suggestions.

  • Research free or low-cost activities ahead of time. That way you can suggest another idea. For example, if a friend calls to invite you out to lunch and an expensive afternoon at the video arcade, suggest the two of you eat at your house and skateboard afterward at the local skate park.

Don't settle. Pick your friends carefully.

  • If the friends you hang around with only like you because of the stuff you buy or the activities you agree to do with them, they're not the kind of people you want in your life anyway. Go find new friends.
  • Here's a quote from Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes: "Tell me what company you keep and I'll tell you what you are." If your friends are all about spending money and having a lot of stuff, sooner or later you will be, too.

Care about the important stuff. People. Trust. Growth.

  • People. Stop focusing on having - having money and stuff. Start thinking about giving. Look around. There are a lot of people in your community who need your help.
  • Trust. Remember, making good decisions, including decisions with money, will increase the trust others place in you. More trust - more freedom!
  • Growth. Materialism (a focus on "stuff") and spending money are traps - the more you have, the more you'll want. Don't let your life revolve around money, shopping, having the latest stuff or the most stuff. Spend it becoming a better you!

Other suggestions:

  • A humorous reply can take the heat off you and keep everything upbeat.
  • Say what you need to say and drop the subject. You have the right to your thoughts and opinions. If someone continues pressuring you, ignore them or leave.
  • Make up an excuse based on truth. "I'm busy" can mean just about anything!


Activity: Peer Pressure Discussion

Divide the group into pairs or groups of three. Assign one of the following situations. Provide a few minutes for them to brainstorm healthy responses to these examples of negative peer pressure. They should incorporate at least one of the techniques discussed.

  • A friend asks you to sign up with him/her for a very expensive sport. You can't afford it.
  • A friend wonders why you don't own a cell phone.
  • A friend points out you don't wear a certain brand name of jacket.
  • A friend reminds you about hanging out Saturday at the expensive sports complex.
  • A visiting friend has a new game system and comments on your older version.
  • A friend notices your family owns older used cars and not later models.
  • A friend buys his school lunch each day and asks why you always bring your lunch.
  • At the movies, a friend sees you're not buying soda and popcorn like everyone else.

Part 3: Getting Shopping "Smarts"

Materials Needed:

Introductory Discussion:

  • Have you ever bought a toy or other item after seeing an ad about it?
  • How did the real thing compare with the advertised version?
  • Were you satisfied or disappointed with your purchase?

Advertisements provide product information, but their main purchase is to persuade consumers to buy goods and services.

A child may see more than 3,000 ads each day, including 100 commercials. Advertising uses various techniques to attract consumers:

  • Cartoon characters (These are especially appealing to kids.)
  • Music (Fast-paced music creates excitement; slower paced music relaxes viewers; silence draws the viewer's attention.)
  • Volume (Commercials can be louder than programming.)
  • Jingles and slogans (Since it's proven music helps people remember, jingles "stick" advertised products in the mind.) 
  • Repeated words and images (Studies show repeated commercials cause consumers to want a good or service more.)
  • Fantasy effects (Characters and situations are not based on reality, for example, flying people or talking animals.)
  • Perfection (Computer graphics can "erase" or touch up wrinkles and other flaws to make people appear more beautiful. Foods are "beautified" with nonedible substances to make them appear more delicious.)
  • Endorsements (To endorse means to approve of something. Companies pay celebrities to endorse products.)
  • Negative messages ("You're not cool unless you have this product.")


Reproducible: Fact or Opinion? 

Advertisements contain both facts and opinions. It's important to be able to tell the difference between facts and opinions. Otherwise, we may misunderstand advertising, spend money unwisely and/or be dissatisfied with our purchase.

Make copies of the reproducible Fact or Opinion? for every student. Review the examples together.

  • Why is the first statement a fact? (Processes set off by changes in temperature and day length cause some tree leaves to change color.)
  • Why is the second statement an opinion? (It can't be proven. Many people enjoy the beauty of autumn leaves. Some people, however, may not be able to appreciate fall leaf colors because of colorblindness. Others may not think fall leaves are beautiful because they have to rake a lot.)

Answers found here.


Activities: Advertising

1. Invite individual or small groups of students to find examples of online advertising or in magazines and newspapers. Or take a short walk and look for advertisements. Write a paragraph describing the techniques used. Were they effective?

2. Put a variety of household items into a box or bag. Ask volunteers to draw one and, using one or more advertising techniques, "sell" that item to the rest of the group.

3. Invite students individually or in smaller groups, to sing portions of famous jingles, stopping short of the product names. Can the group guess the products?

4. Ask the students to keep ad diaries for a day, listing products and the places they found them advertised, not including magazines and newspapers. Possibilities include:

Buses Cars
Billboards​ Scoreboards
Gas Pumps​ Movie Theater
T-shirts Posters

5. The students may enjoy viewing and discussing commercials on the Internet. (Many of today's ads are not appropriate for this age group. Please use your discretion.) Discuss:

  • What special effects did you see in this commercial? Why do you think they were used? (Example: bright flashing lights were used to produce excitement.)
  • What repeated words or images did you see? Why were they repeated? (Example: the repeated word "NEW" points consumers to a new product.)
  • Think of a one-sentence summary of the commercial's message.(Example: "Tastie Puffs cereal tastes better than Power-Os.") 
  • Is the commercial based more on facts or opinions? (Example: "Tastie Puffs cereal tastes better than Power-Os" is an opinion because it can't be proven and is a matter of individual likes and dislikes.)


In Stores

Shopping is a popular American activity. It's estimated the average American shops six hours a week and spends more than $21,000 each year.

How do stores decide what goes where?


Shoppers often have to walk to the back of the store to get milk and eggs. Stores know the items they need most. They count on them walking through other aisles to get to what they need - hopefully picking up other items not on their shopping list!

End caps are found at the ends of store aisles. Companies often pay extra to have their brands displayed at this special location. Signs help products to be noticed more.


At adult eye-level are more expensive brands. The highest and lowest shelves may hold off-brands or sale items. At children's eye-level are products that appeal to kids, where they're sure to see them (and ask Mom or Dad to buy).

Shelf talkers are colorful cards that decorate store shelves. They draw a customer's attention to certain products.


Each week, many shoppers do more shopping while they're waiting to check out! They may read a magazine or pick up a pack of gum, a beverage or a candy bar. They may also buy:

  • Seasonal goods, like 4th of July picnic supplies or Easter candy.
  • Personal care products, like eye drops or lip balm.
  • Gift ideas, like novelties, greeting cards and gift cards.
  • Toys and other low-cost treats for a child who's been "good."

Stores make a lot of money - more than $5 billion each year - in checkout lanes!

Instead of loading more stuff into the cart at the checkout lane, use the time to check through the items in the cart:

  • Look at the freshness dates on food items and make sure they aren't outdated.
  • Look for defects like broken items and torn packages.
  • Look at each item in the cart and ask: "Do I really need this?" (The cashier can always have it reshelved.)

And always check the receipt before leaving the store!

Avoiding the dangers

Stores count on customers making impulse buys. An impulse buy is an unplanned purchase. To prevent impulse buying:

  • Make a shopping list before leaving home and stick to the list.
  • Remember a sale or bargain item isn't a good deal if it's not really needed.
  • Eat before shopping. Shoppers buy extra goodies if they're hungry.
  • Be sure about buying or wait until the next shopping trip. Studies show waiting keeps many people from buying impulsively.


Reproducible: Good Deal - or Not? 

Make copies of the reproducible Good Deal - or Not? for every student. Assign the worksheet as independent work or complete it as a whole-group activity.  The answers are here.