I. Pre-Listening Exercises [Top]

What are common monthly expenses for a student living on their own, including student or car loans? How about a family of four? Write a list of your expenses, figure out how much money you spend on each area, and what percentage of your income pays for each.

HELPFUL TIP: Don’t spend more money than you earn and get into debt. It will follow you and become an unwelcomed friend. Following a budget will help you keep out of debt.

II. Listening Exercises [Top]

Listen to the conversation by pressing the “Play Audio” button and answer the questions. Press the “Final Score” button to check your quiz.

1. To whom is the man speaking?

A. his friend

B. his sister

C. his mom
2. Which sentence would identify the man’s current situation?

A. He has a lot of expenses including student loans.

B. He has a decent job, but he’s looking for a new one.

C. He’s in debt and is trying to borrow money.

3. How would you describe the man’s apartment?

A. a small place with a nice view of the city

B. a spacious apartment that includes cable TV

C. an apartment downtown with free parking

4. Which sentence best describes the man’s dining practices?

A. He tries to go out to eat every night.

B. He doesn’t know how to cook very well.

C. He prefers to eat alone.

5. What does the woman suggest the man do at the end of the conversation?

A. He should be careful when using his credit cards.

B. He ought to get rid of his car to save money.

C. He should stop spending money on entertainment.

Score =
Correct answers:

Ron: Uh, could I borrow a few bucks until payday? I’m a little strapped for cash.
Nancy: Uh, yeah, I guess, but I’m pinching pennies myself, and you still owe me $20 from last week. And mom and your friend Ron said you borrowed money from them this past week. [Oh, yeah.] How ARE things going anyway?

Ron: Well, not very well. To be honest, I’m really in the hole, and I can’t seem to make ends meet these days.

Nancy: What do you mean? I thought you landed a great job recently, so you must be loaded.

Ron: Well, I do have a job, but I’ve used my credit cards to pay off a lot of things recently, but now, I can’t seem to pay the money off.

Nancy: Uh, do you have a budget? I mean, how do you keep track of your income and expenses?

Ron: Well, when my money runs out, I come to you. Of course. [Great!] No, but I guess I should have some financial plan.

Nancy: Well, let me see if I can help you. How much money do you spend on your apartment?

Ron: Uh, I pay $890 on rent for the studio apartment downtown . . . not including utilities and cable TV. But the place has an awesome view of the city.

Nancy: Uh, $890! Why are you paying through the nose for such a small place when you could find a cheaper one somewhere outside of the downtown area?

Ron: Yeah, I guess.

Nancy: Okay. How much money do you spend on food a month?

Ron: Hmmm. I’m not really sure. I think I spend around $600. [$600?!] Well, I go out to eat at least four times a week, so those expenses add up. I just don’t enjoy eating alone, and I don’t have a knack for cooking like you do.

Nancy: Well, I can understand that, but perhaps you ought to buy some microwaveable meals you could prepare at home.

Ron: Well, I guess I could.

Nancy: And entertainment?

Ron: Well, I spend a few dollars here and there on basketball and movie tickets, a concert or two, and ballroom dance lessons.

Nancy: Uh, exactly how much do you spend on all of these? Just a “few” dollars?

Ron: Well, oh . . . about $400 or so.

Nancy: Or so? No wonder you’re having money problems. You can’t just blow your money on things like that! And what about transportation?

Ron: Oh, I commute to work everyday in my new sports car, but I got a great deal, and my monthly payments are only $450. Come outside and take a look. We can go for a spin!

Nancy: No, I’ve heard enough. You’ve got to curb your spending, or you’ll end up broke. I suggest you get rid of your credit cards, cut back on your entertainment expenses, and sell your car. Take public transportation from now on.

Ron: Sell my car?! I can’t date without a car. What am I going to say? “Uh, could you meet me downtown at the bus stop at 7:00?” Come on!

Nancy: And you need to create a budget for yourself and stick to it, and start with paying off your bills, starting with me. You owe me $50 dollars.

Ron: Fifty dollars! Wait, I only borrowed $20 from you last week. How did you come up with $50?

Nancy: Financial consulting fees. My advice is at least worth $30!.

Key Vocabulary [Top]

  • buck (noun): dollar
    – Could you load me a buck or two until tomorrow?
  • be strapped for cash (idiom): have no money available
    – He has really been strapped for cash because he lost his job two weeks ago.
  • pinch pennies (idiom): be careful with money
    – That young couple had to pinch pennies so they can live.
  • in the hole (idiom): in debt
    – My brother has charged so some many purchases to his credit cards that he’s is the hole.
  • make ends meet (idiom): make enough money to live
    – When I was a student, I had to work three part-time jobs to make ends meet.
  • land (verb): find
    – I need to land a good job where I can earn a lot of money.
  • be loaded (adjective): having a lot of money
    – Don’t let him borrow money off you because, in reality, he’s loaded. His rich parents give him $2,500 in spending money a month!
  • budget (noun): a financial plan of expenses and income
    – You should create a budget of your expenses.
  • keep track of (idiom): keep a record of
    – Any business should keep track of its earnings.
  • run out (phrasal verb): use up or exhaust
    – If you don’t keep a budget, you might run out of money before your next paycheck.
  • utilities (noun): services provided by gas, power, and water companies
    – The rent for this apartment includes the cost of utilities.
  • pay through the nose (idiom): pay an excessive amount of money
    – Car insurance is so expensive that you have to pay through the nose to get any type of coverage these days.
  • knack (verb): a special way or ability of doing something
    – My mother has a real knack for saving money on her low salary.
  • blow (verb): spend thoughtlessly or wastefully; throw away
    – People sometimes blow money on things that have no lasting value.
  • commute (verb): travel back and forth between work and home
    – I commute by bus everyday.
  • curb (verb): lessen or reduce
    – Unless you curb your spending, you’re going to run out of money before the week is over.