Money Smart Budget Activities for Teens & Adults with Disabilities

Yes, the best things in life are free, but one of the most crucial life skills for reaching independence is learning how to budget. Lessons about money and budgeting aren’t always included in special education curriculum, but this important life skill is a necessary component if your students are striving towards independence or even group living.

For example, do your students know the difference between a sound suggestion and a salesperson’s persuasion? Salespeople can do a great job of convincing you that you need something—it’s what they get paid for! But this sales persuasion is different than genuine advice. Explaining these nuances to your students with special needs can be the difference between a smart shopper and a compulsive spender. It will also help your students determine the difference between want and need. Use sound judgement when making purchases. Just because a friendly, chatty salesperson tells you that you need something, doesn’t mean you have to buy it!

Try out this “You Should Totally Buy it!” Money Smart budget activity with your students and see if they know the difference between want and need.

“This Looks Great on You! You Should Totally Buy it!” But should you? 

It’s the job of a salesperson to persuade you into thinking you need something you actually don’t. Learning these nuances is particularly important for teens/adults with disabilities to avoid being compulsive shoppers. Check out this five-point “don’t buy it” checklist:

You shouldn’t buy it if:

1. It’s not in the plan: Before you shop, it’s best to leave the house with a spending plan that reflects what you can afford. If it’s not in the plan, don’t buy it!

2. You don’t actually “need” it: It’s always easy to come up with reasons why you might want a product, but a smart shopper is able to differentiate between “want” and “need.”

3. The salesperson told you to buy it: It’s their job to make you want to buy. They live for the sale, but can you live with the sale?

4. It has to be NOW: There is nothing wrong with saying no or postponing a decision to buy something. Giving yourself some time will allow you to think about it more rationally.

5. You just don’t want to miss out: It’s a hard truth, but sometimes you can’t have everything you want. Understanding this is key for smart purchases

It’s not just budgeting, it’s financial abuse prevention

It’s a hard truth that people with disabilities are more likely to be financially abused or financial exploitation. In fact, in a recent survey, 31% of people with disabilities who were victims of abuse, reported experiencing financial abuse. Giving your students the Money Smart budgeting tools to make good decisions about their money is a big step toward preventing financial abuse.

Check out this short story from

Everybody looks like a friend to Kevin Farley. From the people who come to the grocery store where he works, to shopkeepers and strangers on the street. Kevin is 49 and is on the autism spectrum. He can work and perform many daily tasks, but lacks the social skills that adults use to interact—and to protect themselves. That vulnerability may have cost him a significant inheritance. In a lawsuit filed in Texas, the people first designated to look after Kevin’s parents’ estate are alleged to have spent most of the money put aside for his care.

Financial knowledge is especially critical in our society where consumer spending and debt are at record levels, and bankruptcies are commonplace. It is also critical for students to be able to recognize and evaluate the sales ploys thrown at them, whether shopping in person or through the mass media. Being a savvy shopper and a wise money manager requires students to evaluate their needs and wants and to make judgments on how to best meet both. Learn more about independent living skills and educating your students with our MoneySmart Curriculum.

The Stanfield Way

The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.

Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.

Stanfield Special Education Curriculum

VideoModeling® Programs

VideoModeling® is a ground-breaking teaching concept originated by the James Stanfield Company that’s used in thousands of public and private schools across America and Canada for special education needs.

Read More
Journaling, mediation, and intentional talk aren’t just for adults. 5 ways we can facilitate healthy management of mental health in our children.

James Stanfield Co.

My students were glued to the screen. Love Stanfield’s humor. This is the way to teach social skills.

Susan Simon, Principal

Using Humor to Teach Social Skills

Humor = Retention

We believe you learn best when you laugh. By making the classroom experience more comfortable and enjoyable, humor can make teaching and learning more effective, especially for the K12 segment. At Stanfield, we use humor as an integral part of our curricula.

If you as a speaker don’t help your audience to remember your lessons, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Humor… can help accomplish that needed retention…

Gean Perret, Screenwriter
Learn more
Newsletter Image
Newsletter Image
Sign Up to receive news alerts, special offers & promotions.
Sign up now!

As a thank you for signing up for emails, you’ll have advance notification of exclusive offers, new offerings, and more.