How to set up a check book in Excel or Google Sheets

There's something really rewarding about teaching personal finance. My class could really be named "How not to get ripped off" because of how strongly I feel about teaching money awareness. There are so many ways students can get in trouble financially and I love helping them avoid these pitfalls. 

We start the year with a "Wants vs. Needs" activity, followed by a conversation about banking fees. So many of my students have accounts at banks that charge them fees! I nip that in the bud pronto. We then learn how to add transactions to a paper checkbook, then move into a digital checkbook. I am always surprised when my seniors don't automatically know what column - debit or credit - things like paychecks, ATM withdrawals and purchases should go in. I love teaching them things that directly apply to their lives.

Excel Check Book

After completing a few checkbook activities on paper, I brought my students to the library to make their digital checkbooks. Last year I did the same activity, only we used Excel. This year I decided to use Google Sheets to make it easier for me to grade. Once my students were finished with their sheets, they shared them with me. I then checked that the formulas were correct by adding a few transaction amounts and seeing if the equations correctly changed the totals. 

Check Book Task Cards

We also complete this checkbook task cards activity. A check register acts as an answer sheet and students can complete the tasks in any order. A simple rubric makes grading super easy. 

Check Book Task Cards

More Consumer Math activities:
A while ago, a friend had sent me some information about a partnership between Donors Choose and PWC Earn Your Future. There is a way to earn $500 for every 2 modules of their free financial literacy curriculum 15 or more students complete. I'm not sure yet of the details (there were a few broken links), but I finally found the page that gave me access to the curriculum units. It looks awesome!  After entering my information, up popped A TON of FREE financial literacy printables and other things. Here is the link if you'd like to check it out: PWC Earn Your Future Curriculum modules

If you have followed by blog for any amount of time, you know how strongly I feel about math word walls. I recently made a math word wall for financial literacy that comes in both print and digital form. 

digital financial literacy word wall
digital financial literacy word wall

Clicking on each of the images brings you to another room where the image is enlarged. Here is the savings account room:

digital financial literacy word wall - savings account room
digital financial literacy word wall

The word wall comes in print color and print black & white in the same file. 

printable financial literacy word wall
financial literacy word wall (printable version)

I also compiled a bunch of activities we use throughout the year in this Consumer Math bundle

Consumer Math Bundle
Consumer Math bundle


  1. I printed off the instructions and after doing everything I decided to change it to look more the actual check book register. When I did this I became confused on how to do the formulas so that everything turns out right. I would include a copy to show you what I did but I don't know how. Can you help me?

  2. Sure! I am obsessed with Excel formulas so I'm glad to help. Can you email me the sheet? I can fix it up for you and send it back:)

  3. how do i put it in an email? sorry it's been awhile since i have done anything like that.

  4. never mind I was able to share it with you by entering in your email address.