Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
What Can I Afford?
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

In this lesson, students will explore the costs of various cell phone plans based on a vignette that appears in the show TV411, Episode #122. The rate structures of cell phone plans represent linear functions that students will compare by graphing in order to determine which plan would result in the greatest savings. Then, students will use these skills to compare checking account options to find the one that best suits their needs. The lesson plan concludes with students comparing various types of banking accounts to determine which one would yield the highest returns if the money saved from the cell phones were placed in different accounts.

Grade Level:

  • Grades 6 to 8

Time Allotment:
  • Three 45-minute class periods

Subject Matter:
  • Budgeting and saving
  • Spending and investing
  • Linear functions
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Compound interest

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Budget and keep track of expenses to help decide which cell phone plan they can afford.
  • Compare cell phone plans using various methods to determine which is the most appropriate for their needs.
  • Use direct calculation, tables, and graphs to compare various pricing structures for cell phones, checking accounts, and other services.
  • Describe the basics of checking accounts.
  • Consider the fees of various checking accounts to determine which one makes the most sense for their needs.


McREL Economic Standard 1 for Grades 6-8:

  1. Understands that scarcity of resources necessitates choice at both the personal and the societal levels
  2. Knows that all decisions involve opportunity costs and that effective economic decision making involves weighing the costs and benefits associated with alternative choices
  3. Understands that the evaluation of choices and opportunity costs is subjective and differs across individuals and societies
NCTM Algebra Standard for Grades 6-8:

Understand patterns, relations, and functions:
  • Represent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic rules.
  • Relate and compare different forms of representation for a relationship.
Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships
  • Model and solve contextualized problems using various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations.
This lesson was prepared by: Patrick Vennebush and Melissa Donohue