Grade 9-12

Owning a Car

Time: 45 mins,
Updated: September 17 2019,


Students will be able to:

  • Explain the costs of owning and operating a car.
  • Calculate the potential costs of owning and operating a car.

In this personal finance lesson, students will analyze the cost of owning a car and decide what they can afford.



Prompt the students to answer the following questions:

1. Do you currently own a car? If you don’t, have you ever considered buying a car?
2. What do you think are the potential costs of owning a car?
3. Why do you think there are so many types of different vehicles available to purchase today?
4. What kind of car do you think you need to buy in order to meet your needs to get to school or go to your job?

Review their answers as a class. Explain that they will participate in a project where they determine what kind of car is best for them or their family.


Show the Better Money Habits video called The True Cost of a Car on a projection screen. Distribute Owning a Car hand out. Tell students to use Part A of the handout to record the information presented in the video. After viewing the video, review the handout with the class.

Group Activity

Put students into groups and provide them a copy of Part B of the Owning a Car handout. Assign each group a different type of vehicle (sports car, new truck, used SUV, etc.) or have students make their own selection. Be sure groups are choosing a variety of vehicles to maximize the purpose of this lesson. Have the groups research their selected vehicle, using online or provided sources. Have them record their findings on Part B of the handout. Ask each group to share their findings with the rest of the class by having each group write their information on the board or on a bulletin board to better compare their results.

Debrief the activity by asking students what factors or costs seemed to make the biggest difference when comparing the different vehicles. Remind students that they may choose to save money for a down payment to reduce the monthly costs or save money to purchase a car to save the monthly payment and interest costs.

Individual Activity

Ask students to reflect on the video by writing a paragraph, based on their own personal situation. Write the following question on the board:

  1. What factors presented in this video are the most important costs for them or their family to consider when buying a car? Be sure to explain the reason for your answers.

Have students share their answers with a partner and then share their responses with the class.


Have students select which of the vehicles researched by the groups would best fit their individual or family situation and prepare a written summary explaining why it would be their best choice. Have students submit their response.


Activity 1

Have students write a “tip sheet” to share with their friends, including things to consider when purchasing a car.

,Personal Finance