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Who Knows Where the Money Goes? Using a Spending Diary to Reflect on Consumption Habits
An activity focused on reflective spending and the creation of a consumption diary, as students track their spending habits in order to analyze how their personal choices interact with external factors to shape their consumption habits.


By: Meredith Katz (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Session type: Multiple sessions, Undergraduate level, Small/Medium/Large size


  • Reflexivity exercise

  • Personal consumption


Introduction to the teaching example:

The first step in reducing expenditure and consumption is to look at individual consumption and spending patterns in order to determine how much money people are spending. During this exercise, students keep a weekly record of their consumption and expenditure patterns. They share their encounters in class with their classmates and the professor throughout the week.


In order to identify how they are spending their money, the students categorize their expenses by themes such as food, gas, entertainment, etc. They consider the effects of their consumption and purchase decisions, critically evaluating them to spot any troubling patterns or areas in need of change, whether related to the economic or environmental impacts of their consumption. 


Finally, students compose a report in which they list their weekly expenditures summed by category. Additionally, they consider their purchasing patterns and project experience, connecting the difficulties and opportunities they encountered to more general problems with sustainable consumption.

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