The Center for
Mathematics and Quantitative Education at Dartmouth

Money Matters
The Financial Literacy Initiative at Dartmouth College

Paddle Your Own Canoe
Constructing a Household Budget

According to a US Department of Labor survey , the American household spent an average of $6,372 on food and $16,895 on housing in 2009. These represented 12.99% and 34.43% of household income respectively. How likely is the average person to be aware of their personal spending? Some sources report that only 40% of U.S. households have a budget and more than 20% keep no track at all of where their money goes.

This is a case where knowledge certainly is power. The Federal Trade Commission recommends developing a budget as “the first step toward taking control of your financial situation”. In this module, students will do just that as they become acquainted with typical household expenses and the options life offers for compromise.

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 .

Dorothy Wallace, Dartmouth College, Kim Rheinlander, Dartmouth College, Caren Diefenderfer, Hollins University