Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Students To Create Budgets

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'Budget' photo (c) 2012, Tax Credits - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This short “The Best…” list is sort of an addendum to The Best Sites For Learning Economics & Practical Money Skills. Even though there are some great financial literacy sites on that list, there really isn’t anything there that students can use to create a budget for themselves — either reflective of their present income and expenses or what they anticipate for the future.

There are tons of online budgeting tools, but most, I think, are not particularly accessible to English Language Learners. As with all of my “The Best…” lists, though, I will only include online applications that I think will be accessible to ELL’s (and are free to use).

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Students To Create Budgets:

For anyone who is teaching in California, the “hands-down” best site is California Reality Check. If I had to design a site for English Language Learners, it would be close to how this tool looks. It has a step-by-step process for developing a basic budget, and it includes the different specific costs for living expenses in all the major California cities. Career Zone California has revised their exceptional online student budget calculator. However, their original site also still looks good. Check them both out and decide which you want to use.

(There’s now a site that will provide you with a localized budget of what you need to live in any city or town in the United States.  It’s called The Living Wage Calculator, and has been developed by people at Pennsylvania State University.)

Numbeo shows the cost-of-living in just about every country in the world, and many cities in the United States.

Pear Budget is good for students who don’t live in California. It, too, has a step-by-step guide. However, it doesn’t have the information needed for students to realistically develop their budget — they would have to research the specifics elsewhere. But the site is very clear what budget categories students would need to use, and it’s very clear how to input the information. You can use the site without saving the information for free, and then you can get a free thirty-day trial before you have to start paying for it. But you can just have students complete it and print it out without doing any sign-up at all.

The Budget Edge is a site that would be great for adult English Language Learners. It asks a number of questions that would really only be relevant to people in that age group, and it is very accessible. Plus, all it’s information is geographically-based, so its suggestions will be very relevant to where ever your students are teaching. I was quite impressed with it.

Living On A Budget is a good interactive that’s accessible to English Language Learners. It’s one of many resources on a site called “The Mint.”

Finally, Practical Money Skills For Life has a variety of simple and reasonably accessible calculators for a variety of financial issues, including budgets and loans.

Bundle is a new application that easily lets you identify how much people — similar to you demographically — spend in different categories. It’s location-specific, at least by county. If you, as I do, create opportunities for students to learn about budgeting and have them develop their own, Bundle would be a good tool for them to get a realistic idea about how much they might have to spend. For example, this is their analysis of a typical household budget in Sacramento.

Planwise is a new free tool that seems to me just about the most ambitious web tool out there for budgeting. It may be a little too complicated for English Language Learners, but it’s worth a look.

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As usual, feedback and additional suggestions are always welcome.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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