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This is a personal finance lesson on buying your first car


Social Studies  


10, 11, 12  


Title – Purchasing Your First Car
By – Judith Hennessy
Primary Subject РComputers / Internet 
Secondary Subjects –¬†
Grade Level – 10-12

Subject: Personal Finance — Purchasing a Car

Materials needed:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Newspapers — Classified Autos For Sale & Dealer Advertisements
  • Colored markers
  • Internet Search Engine – “Automobiles For Sale”

NYS CDOS Standards: Students will

  • Describe the need for data and obtain data to make decisions
  • Select and use appropriate technology to complete a task
  • Select and communicate information in an appropriate format
  • Use technology to acquire, organize, and communicate information by entering, modifying, retrieving, and storing data


  • Students will research and compare the costs of purchasing a car
  • Students will compare/contrast automobile features and options
  • Students will create a spreadsheet presenting data collected from print and online sources
  • Students will calculate monthly automobile loan payments


      The teacher will ask students if they have obtained, or plan to apply for, their driving permit.
      The teacher will ask students if they would like to own a car.
      Students will brainstorm what make, model and features they would like in an automobile.
    The teacher will ask students how much they can afford to spend on a car. Will it be new or used? What will it cost per month?

Procedures: (Activities)

      Step 1 – Distribute newspaper advertisements. Students will review ads and select three vehicles that appeal to them.
      Step 2 — Students will use the Internet and perform a search, locating two automobiles that fit their criteria.
      Step 3 — Students will create a spreadsheet to compare Car #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 using the following column headings: Year, Make, Model, Mileage, Price. Students may include columns to show additional options. Teacher will circulate to assist as needed.
      Step 4 — Students will add column headings for the following: 3-Year Loan, 5-Year Loan, 7-Year Loan.
      Step 5 — Students will use a formula and calculate payments for each vehicle and loan term.
    Step 6 — Students will save spreadsheet and print one copy.


      Teacher and students will discuss results of loan calculations.
      Did the students choose vehicles that are priced to fit into their budget?
      Will they be able to afford the monthly payments?
      Why are there differing loan terms?
      How will varying interest rates affect their payments?


      How will students budget to include vehicle maintenance costs and gasoline expenses?
      Do students need to reconsider their vehicle choices?
    Spreadsheet printout will be reviewed by teacher and placed in student portfolios.

E-Mail Judith Hennessy !

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