The Center for
Mathematics and Quantitative Education at Dartmouth

Money Matters
The Financial Literacy Initiative at Dartmouth College

Jetta or Jaguar? Buying your ideal car

According to this report describing two separate studies (published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), the majority of workers commute to work by automobile, and the costs associated with automobiles are a major portion of the household budget. Households making under $70,000 per year spent an average of almost $8000 per year on car expenses in 2008. (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau).

We are a car-oriented country. It is no wonder that graduates starting a new job feel they need to buy a car. But the statistics suggest that decisions about what car to buy and how to go about purchasing it are not always informed by pure rationality. In this module we invite students to consider their motivations for choosing a certain kind of car, go through the process of budgeting for all car expenses, and compare the consequences of purchasing different choices of vehicle and financing it in various ways.

We suggest that instructors open the instructor notes for this module, save them as a PDF file, and print them for reference.

This module also includes assessment tools (pre and post test) and a case study for deeper investigation of this topic. These resources are available by contacting Audrey Brown .

Maryann Allen, Colby-Sawyer, Andrew Cahoon, Colby-Sawyer, Eva Szalvai, Colby-Sawyer Tom Kealy, Colby-Sawyer, Semra Kilic-Bahi, Colby-Sawyer, Eric Gaze, Bowdoin College, Dorothy Wallace, Dartmouth College, Kim Rheinlander, Dartmouth College, Jeanine Lloyd, Mass Bay Community College.